What does a restaurant maggot do when the entire town is flocking to Fiola Mare, trying to get the opening scoop?
He goes to Casa Luca. 🙂
Although Casa Luca has raised prices since it opened – in some cases by a lot – the menu as a whole still seems very reasonable for the quality you get here.
More importantly, there is still a small list of $28 bottles of wine (the selection is less than half the size it used to be, but it’s still there). I began my meal with a bottle of 2012 Orsolani “Al Bacio” Erbaluce di Caluso ($28) from Piemonte because I knew what I wanted for dinner. (Like many other restaurants, Casa Luca will package the unfinished wine for you to take home, making these $28 bottles particularly appealing.)
Monkfish Milanese ($28) with lemon bread crumbs, artichokes, dill, and lemon was everything I hoped it would be and more. Beautifully breaded, with a cooked lemon on the side to squeeze, and plenty of tantalizingly delicious sauce for swabbing – a complex, hearty sauce which was probably made with a shellfish base (at one point I got teeny-tiny piece of what was surely crustacean shell which to me is a great sign). I needed to ask for bread, but when I did, I got four large pieces, grilled and brushed with olive oil – Casa Luca apparently has one-size-only bread plates (they should consider half-sized plates for solo diners – hopefully, the unused bread isn’t going to waste).
For my “cheese course,” an order of Fusilli Cacio e Pepe ($16) which was just marvelous: the fusilli laced with just the right amount of pepper, and in the middle of the bowl, an entire order of Burrata, still slightly chilled which provided a really nice contrast with the piping-hot fusilli. It amused me when I got offered some fresh ground pepper, but I suppose that’s no different than offering fresh parmesan with lasagna. For those ordering this dish as an appetizer, I would suggest nibbling a couple bites of Burrata, then mixing it while the pasta is hot (it makes a really wonderful cheese sauce); in my case, since I used this as a cheese course, I left the Burrata intact, and used the pasta as my bread to accompany the cheese (if that makes any sense).
There’s a lot of talk about a few newer restaurants that have opened recently, but none are better than Casa Luca was on this particular evening. A wonderful showing for this restaurant, especially since some of the staff must be pulled over to Fiola Mare for the opening. (I’m fairly certain I was not recognized, or if I was, they did a really good job of disguising it.) Even with tax and tip, this full meal with a bottle of wine was two-digits – don’t forget about Casa Luca when you’re thinking about downtown dining options.
Maintained strongly in Italic, with no chance of losing that status unless something dramatic happened, Casa Luca is one of the best restaurants in DC. I don’t know who chef Erin Clarke is, but (assuming she was running the kitchen on this evening), hers is a name to look out for.