The Washington, D.C. dining scene was changed for the better when Chef Fabio Trabocchi and his wife Maria moved to town and opened Fiola. It's a beautiful and classy restaurant that delivers fine dining at its best. This Friday, July 5th they will open their second restaurant Casa Luca in the old Againn space located at 1099 New York Avenue NW. The restaurant is named after their son Luca, and is supposed to be a family gathering place, similar to the meals the Trabocchi's enjoy at home on Sunday's with their own family. A few friends and I were able to get a sneak preview yesterday as they kindly extended an invitation for us to try the food during "friends and family" week. After close to 3 hours of plowing through the extensive menu, I can confidently declare that Casa Luca will be great success just like its sister restaurant Fiola. The space: For those who spent time at Againn, you'll immediately be surprised at how they were able to transform the interior. What used to be a dark and wood paneled restaurant is now a light, airy, and inviting dining establishment. The beautiful light fixtures come from Maria's hometown of Majorca, Spain, while the handcrafted tapestries on the wall with the "Casa Luca" insignia are imported from Fabio's home region in Italy of Le Marche. There are round comfortable booths, banquette seating, and a decent sized private room that can be sectioned off into many spaces, or can serve as regular restaurant space when not being used. The bar area is sizable, and is sure to draw a great crowd
The food: The menu is generous and is comprised of different sections that include breads, salumi, formaggio, picoletti (small bites), pasta, pesci, and carni. The food includes many classics (and some favorites from Fiola), but has a lot of new and different things to offer such as the board of polenta served family style topped with sausage and broccoli rabe. This is meant to be eaten with spoons, and everyone at the table scrapes away until there is nothing left on the board. It was a fun way to dine with friends! Other favorites included the beautiful and fresh bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes, the summer corn salad, the burrata, the scripelle which is savory crepes with smoked ricotta and a hen broth, and also the gnocchi with duck ragu.
The stuffed squash blossoms were served with two delicious dips: a pesto, and a tomato sauce. In addition, there were fried artichokes on the plate that were delicious. The pesto risotto with a diver sea scallop and pinenuts is not a regular on the menu as of now, but I hope they add it because it was lovely.
When the dessert menu arrived I was sure I had no room to eat anything else, but I believe the hazelnut coffee cake with caramel gelato is one of the best desserts I have had in a long time. The cake was so moist and flavorful, and is also served with a small jar of vincotto on the side if you'd like to drizzle it over top for a sweet touch.
Casa Luca opens tomorrow, and I highly recommend you start booking your reservations quickly. It's going to be hard to get in when things get up and running, because this place is going to be a top Washington dining destination in no time.