When I think of Italy, several words come to mind: authenticity, simplicity, family, tradition... a depiction of the country, but also of its culinary background. Italian food inspires warmth, comfort and satisfaction (to me anyway!). So naturally, when I heard of the newly opened Luciano Trattoria, a traditional Italian restaurant, I was eager to try their delicious “cucina semplice”! The restaurant, located on Saint-Zotique Street, just east of Little Italy, takes its name from chef-owner Luciano D'Orazio and offers simple and authentic Italian cuisine.
Upon walking inside, my boyfriend and I quickly notice the imposing garage doors that take up the majority of their main wall. How enjoyable this place will be during the summer! The dining room is bright and comfortable. The decor is very modern, although a little cold for my taste. Everything is grey, metallic and almost machinic, I would say. Don’t get me wrong, it looks beautiful, yet not exactly what you’d expect when you think of an authentic Italian restaurant. However, even if the decor seems a little grey at first glance, the homey atmosphere quickly rescues the ambiance. Everyone seems to know each other! You can see large families, laughing friends and couples in love. Even the cooks, which we can observe through their open kitchen, seem to be having fun.
We are presented with two menus, food and wine. The wine selection is affordable and varied, without being overwhelming for the average person. Accessible choices and prices that will unquestionably please all. Congrats! The food menu is quite concise, which I love. My boyfriend is a chef and he has repeatedly told me that a simple menu is always a good sign. It features a few appetizers, several choices of pasta, a fish dish and a meat dish.
We start the appetizer service with the veal polpettes, served in a light tomato sauce and delicious Padano cheese. The veal meatballs are dense, tender and perfectly seasoned. And what can I say about this sauce… Simply divine! Luckily, we are served fresh bread to dip, because I would not want to waste a drop of this succulent tomato sauce! Meanwhile, we are served our second appetizer; “La Bufala”, mozzarella di Bufala, cherry tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Frankly, I could eat that forever and I would never get enough of it! Knowing that their season is nowhere near, I am surprised to see how good the tomatoes are! Have I been looking in the wrong place? Once again, a dish that effortlessly utilizes the simplicity of fresh ingredients. The result is delicious.
For our mains, we started with pasta, the bucatini all'amatriciana, served in a tomato sauce, lardons, chillies, black pepper and pecorino. When reading the description of this dish, I am surprised to see black pepper used as an ingredient on its own. We are so used to black pepper that it has become a familiar, almost unoriginal seasoning. When tasting the dish, I can see the brilliant usage of the black pepper. I’m pleased to finally see it used to its full potential. Black pepper is anything but ordinary!
Last but certainly not least, the vitello Milanese. An Italian cuisine classic served on a light tomato sauce and paired with delicious gnocchis in a blue cheese sauce. The veal is delicately seasoned and lightly breaded, in accordance with tradition. The gnocchis are soft and cushiony, blending perfectly with the crispy veal. The blue sauce subtly paired with the slightly lemony veal and tomato sauce is essentially this dishes’ success.
I predict that Luciano will soon have an important place within Montreal’s Italian culinary scene. Simplicity and authenticity are the principles that make this restaurant a success and an altogether pleasant experience. I raise my glass to the hard working and passionate kitchen staff that I had the chance to observe throughout the evening. Their love of food is strongly conveyed to the customer through the quality of their dishes. This is a place that I look forward to visiting this summer. See you soon, Mr. Luciano!