- 420 E. Locust St., Des Moines, IA, 50309
- Overall User Rating:
- (46 ratings)
- Lunch 11a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday
- Official Web Site:
Earlier this year, Lucca ranked among one of four local restaurants to snag a spot on the ballot for the prestigious James Beard Restaurant awards (Centro, Django and Bistro Montage also garnered nods). As it turned out, neither Lucca nor the others advanced last month to the semifinalist stage.
If it’s any consolation, Lucca, I offer a list of alternative awards, which you win handily in my book:
Top Spot to Encounter Well-Dressed Diners: The oblong space, with exposed brick walls, open kitchen and sleek furnishings almost always attracts dashing clientele.
Restaurateur Who Most Resembles George Clooney: The comparison was published in Food & Wine magazine in 2007. Whether or not it’s true, the point is, we often spot chef-owner Steve Logsdon running the show, and his dedication comes through in the overall experience.
Venue that Understands the Possibilities of a First Course: The thoughtful first-plate choices on the nightly two-course, $28 prix-fixe menu creatively calm those initial pangs of hunger, yet never fatigue the palate. The feather-light gnocchi and the polenta — delicately crisp on the outside, pudding-creamy on the inside — both roused (rather than doused) the appetite.
Restaurant that Defines “Refined Rustic” Italian Cuisine: Never fussy, but (almost) never ordinary, the food here can best be described by the current culinary oxymoron “refined rustic.” The kitchen trades frippery for precision, and always comes out ahead.
In inexpert hands, a shrimp risotto spiked with marinara might arrive a gooped-up, too-tangy, tomato-y mess. But here, the mere touch of the homemade sauce brought a subtle zest that meshed with the sweetness of the shrimp and the snap of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
I could go on at equal length and with equally due accolades about the homemade ravioli appetizer, the skirt steak and the swordfish. Each successfully balanced passion and purity, sorcery with simplicity.
A few minor stumbles, including a drab summer squash sided with otherwise killer-good scallops — did little to diminish my enthusiasm across two recent visits. The only thing that left me non-plussed was a braised pork dish .
Bottom Line: Deserving of yet another award — Worthy of a Splurge Even in These Challenging Times.