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.
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, soufflé-like dish a small amount of egg yolk oozed out making this dish simply, a fantasy.
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.