Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trattoria Lucca, Charleston, SC

5 More Stars For Chef Ken Vedrinski


Inside Trattoria Lucca
When I first started out writing this blog I wanted to find those “hidden restaurant gems” that were off the beaten path and simply, incredible.  It happened again.

Nestled in the sleepy Elliotsborough neighborhood is Trattoria Lucca.  So nestled that if you didn’t know if was there you would pass it.  We went with friends whose husband is a native Charlestonian and he didn’t even know where it was.  Parking is a bit challenging since it’s mostly residential, but with a bit of patience we found a spot.

The restaurant is lined with windows and very warm and welcoming.  We were quickly seated at our four top by a very nice member of the staff.  Here’s where I thought it was going to go a bit south.

Expediting Area
Our table was directly, I mean directly, in front of the kitchen.  It was also where the servers congregated and chatted.  Top that with a very loud radio and we could barely engage in any conversation. 

When our server came by I asked him if the radio was serving as the music for the restaurant. He explained that it was for the staff.  I asked if he could turn it down a tad which he quickly saw to. From that point forward the evening was perfect.

The menu at Trattoria Lucca changes quite frequently to utilize all of the many local and in-season products that the chef chooses.  Many of items on the menu that we saw on-line were not being offered that evening. No worries, this menu was even better than the one we looked at!

They offer three varieties of appetizers - “Verdure” which was their small plates of vegetables, “Formaggi”, cheese and “Salumi”, meats.  You have the option of Uno (1), Piccolo (3) or Grande (5).  Depending on the selection of items, each of these varies in price.

We selected the Wild Boar Salami, Dried Fig with Sheep and Cow Lombardy and The Warm Cauliflower Sformatino.  I had no idea what a Sformatino was, let alone pronounce it, but I was up for the adventure.  Our server told us that the dish would take a little longer to cook.  No problem since before us was brought freshly in-house made bread and an incredible white bean dip. It was a slice of heaven.

Our friends selected a vegetable medley.  Verdicchio Braised Foraged Mushrooms, Local Spring Asparagus and Golden Beets.

As we chatted at the table it was mentioned that Chef Ken Vedrinski used to be the Executive Chef at The Woodlands.  It was under his tenure that they were awarded the prestigious “5 Star” rating, the only 5 star rating awarded in the Low Country.  Without previously knowing it, we were about to enjoy a culinary masterpiece.

First, I’d like to say that the food presentation is second to none. As Steven Tyler says on American Idol, “It was beautiful”.  Different shaped white plates arrived and we quickly dug in to our appetizers. 

The cauliflower dish was indescribable.  Although it mentioned a Soft, Farm Egg in its description, I thought it was part of the recipe, but it wasn’t.  As you cut into this warmed, soufflĂ©-like dish a small amount of egg yolk oozed out making this dish simply, a fantasy.
Warm Cauliflower Sformatino

The Wild Boar Salami was cut paper thin and served with dried figs, cheese and Melba toast.  Each item complimented one another and they were quite tasty.

Wild Boar Salami, Dried Fig with Sheep and Cow Lombardy
The vegetable items that our friends ordered were equally impressive.  The Golden Beet dish was not only beautiful but the beets and the side of pickled garlic, tangerine, smoked ricotta and walnuts went perfectly together.
Golden Beets
The Foraged Mushrooms and the Local Spring Asparagus were also items that we enjoyed and chatted about.  Could dinner be this good? Yes!
Verdicchio Braised Foraged Mushrooms
Local Spring Asparagus
I don’t know even where to begin with these items… The Ricotta Gnudi (all pasta is made in house), with Homemade “Duck” Italian Sausage, “Nona Volpe’s Tomato Sugo” was melt-in-your mouth tender, unlike any I’ve ever had.  Although we were all trying to sample each of the dishes my husband was hard pressed to give any of this up!
Ricotta Gnudi (all pasta is made in house), with Homemade “Duck” Italian Sausage, “Nona Volpe’s Tomato Sugo”
My Scaloppini of Naturally Raised Veal, Trumpet Mushrooms, Roasted Cauliflower “Agro Dolce” was the by far the best veal I have ever tasted.  This was no-knife-needed veal that melted once it left the fork.  I realized after my first bite why my husband was holding back on the gnudi.
Scaloppini of Naturally Raised Veal, Trumpet Mushrooms, Roasted Cauliflower “Agro Dolce” 
Both of our friend’s pasta dishes – Bucatini, Flash Seared North Carolina Calico Scallops, Herb Brodo and the Pacheri with Crushed Local Broccoli, Pine Nuts, Ragusano, Olio Verde were music to our mouths.  Not only creative, colorful, but very flavorful to boot!
Pacheri with Crushed Local Broccoli, Pine Nuts, Ragusano, Olio Verde

Bucatini, Flash Seared North Carolina Calico Scallops, Herb Brodo

I feel like I’m running out of adjectives, but it was really that good.  So good, that we decided to sample two desserts - Tiramisu and a Kitkat 3 – 3 hazelnut samplings. 

Even though I have to admit that I was full from dinner, I’m glad we ordered them.  The dessert samplings were (thankfully), small but huge on flavor.  The Tiramisu was like a very light pillow from heaven.  All of the hazelnut delights were just that, delightful.
Tiramisu

Kit Kat 3

No question, a hidden gem.  They also offer a family-style “Monday Family Supper” which we can’t wait to go to.  No other adjective but awesome.


We gave Trattoria Lucca our highest rating. 5 out of a possible 5 plates. 


Trattoria Lucca on Urbanspoon

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