Street in Oakland offers a charming array of restaurants, boutiques, snack shops and urban living. It's within easy walking
distance of the Carnegie Museums, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Along the block between
Forbes and Fifth avenues is a destination restaurant celebrating its 10th anniversary. Lucca Ristorante, owned by Joseph Jordan
and Tom Chianelli, is tucked among an Irish imports store, coffeehouses, hair salons and an Indian grocery store.
the kitchen are executive chef Roger Seanor and sous chef Eric Von Hausen, who make each menu item to order. There isn't a
deep fryer in sight.
"There are no fried foods," Von Hausen says. Adds Seanor, a self-taught chef who has
spent five years at Lucca: "When we do calamari, it's all sauteed."
On his resume, Seanor lists positions
at the former Sgro's restaurant, where he began his career while in high school, then about five years at the noted Duquesne
Club, followed by two years at the Pines Tavern, a year at Embassy Suites Hotel, then nearly five years at Hyeholde Restaurant
in Moon. Von Hansen, a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Arts, returned to Lucca a few months ago after working for McCormick
& Schmick's Seafood Restaurants as a corporate trainer and operations chef. He was involved in opening 20 of those restaurants
Lucca serves lunch and dinner. A three-course prix-fixe lunch, $10.95, offers a choice of two items per
course, including salad or soup, fettuccine alfredo or linguine tossed with olive oil and garlic, and house-made chocolate
or vanilla gelato. A prix-fixe dinner, $21.95, features most of those items, except risotto steps in for the fettuccine.
a la carte menu at lunch offers appetizers and soup; three varieties of salad (with chicken or salmon for a few dollars more);
grilled chicken, club and grilled portobello mushroom sandwiches; and an array of more substantial entrees, including chicken
piccata, salmon, tiger shrimp, sirloin steak, quiche and pasta.
The appetizer course on the dinner menu is longer --
pancetta risotto, scallop seviche and poached shrimp are among choices -- and there are three salads, including the classic
Caesar and the Caprese, featuring fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil oil and parmesan.
For the entrees, Seanor and Von
Hansen offer pasta with mushrooms and artichokes; wild mushroom ravioli; a pairing of potato gnocchi and asaigo ravioli; crab
and tiger shrimp in a spicy tomato-basil cream sauce; basil-stuffed trout; rendered duck breast with pecan bread; and grilled
quail teamed with sirloin steak.
During his earlier tenure at Lucca, Von Hansen worked with Seanor, so the two are
comfortable together cooking in the kitchen and developing new dishes. One of the restaurant's signature offerings -- a Von
Hansen specialty -- is Sea Scallops with Sweet Corn Risotto, Mushroom Ragu and Tomato Confit, which the chefs shared today
with Cooking Class.
"We work together well," says Seanor, adding that "lots of changes" have been
made since Von Hansen's return. The two have started to revamp the menu for fall to highlight seasonal ingredients; they already
are working with several area farmers. "(That menu) will be a little bit different, featuring game, ravioli, an assortment
of seafood and duck." Savory strudels are in development, he adds.
While Lucca's cuisine is northern Italian,
the chefs like to "play around" with different cultures -- but they have their limits. "Very rarely will you
see Asian here," Seanor says. "We try to stick with the structures of European cooking." A recent special featured
German spatzle, made by hand.
Northern Italian, with other European influences
price range: Three-course prix-fixe dinner, $21.95, beginning at 5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays. Three-course prix-fixe
lunch menu, $10.95, Mondays-Fridays. Dinner entrees, $22-$30.
Visit Lucca's Web site to see its 30-second commercial that features a plating of the sea scallops recipe featured in today's Cooking Class. Nonsmoking.
Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Mondays-Fridays; dinner begins at 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; closed Sundays except for holidays and special events
Address: 317 S. Craig St., Oakland