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Dining in Lu.C.C.A. – L’Imbuto

It is no secret that F and I like eating in single menu – or no menu, depending how you see it – restaurants. We like to be surprised with something different, something that pushes our (usual) palate boundary, and more importantly, something that the chef creates based on what’s fresh and in season from the market. Even better combination, for us, would be a meal that’s creative yet home-y at the same time.

You may have noticed the lack of planning to our Italian trip thus far, relying mainly on serendipitous wandering around town for sightseeing, food, and gelati. Apart from knowing where we would be sleeping on any particular night, everything could happen. L’Imbuto (i.e. The Funnel) was the sole restaurant that I’d pencilled onto our itinerary, having seen it mentioned in an article about Lucca and got me all curious.

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

It was a tough self-debate if we should seek out Cristiano Tomei’s contemporary restaurant, or head to one of the local favourites which serves more traditional fares. We eventually decided an evening of out-of-the-ordinary meal over two weeks of traditional Italian could be a good culinary break. Our B&B host did make us doubt our decision for a moment, with his constant mention of how “special” this restaurant is, according to his friends.

Located within the contemporary art centre of Lucca (conveniently abbreviated into Lu.C.C.A) the restaurant occupies the main foyer just by the ticket/info counter and a couple of adjacent rooms. At 7.30pm, we may have been too early by Italian standard for dinner, but it also meant we had our pick of where to be seated. We kept to the main dining area so we could observe the coming and going. I know, I know, I’m nosy, but hey, we were about to check out a sort of Chateaubriand of Lucca – surely that made perfect excuse to want in on most of the actions?

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

We didn’t have a say on what dishes we would be getting, but we could select the quantity that we wished to eat. For dinner, the options ran between 4, 6 or 9 dishes. We went for the middle-ground 6, of which 3 desserts were also promised as part of the meal. We were also served a complimentary starter, plus an extra dessert – complimentary of the chef – because we had happily cleared (ahem, polished) all of our plates. In between cooking for us, Chef Tomei popped in and out of the kitchen and saw us eating with gusto and I think he liked that ;)

As Chef Tomei hailed from Viareggio, our meal opened with several seafood-based dishes: a rather fruity ceviche with strawberry and watermelon, a delicately battered cod served with beet, pan-fried mullet with more fruits and zests, and clam risotto with ashes of charred moss. These descriptions sounded “simple” but there were a lot more ingredients in each of these small plates. I started wondering if I should ask the waitress to write them all down…

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

Next came some creative and experimental dishes: ravioli filled with olive oil (must eat each whole to get that burst of amazing olive oil in the mouth), tomato water-poached egg yolk (which was a bit too subtle to taste), and a deconstructed steak “tartare” on burnt pine bark. The last had got to be the most interesting concept yet. Rare-cooked steak carpaccio that took on the burnt eaten together with roasted potato strips actually tricked one’s taste-bud into sending the signal “this is a piece of succulent grilled steak”.

By now, F and I started to eye at each other uncomfortably when a small slice of baked aubergine was served. That steak was rather substantial and if that wasn’t the last savoury dish that we were getting, we ran the risk of not finishing the desserts still due to be served. It took us a moment to realise that the aubergine was the first of our desserts. This was a tad weird, but then again, considering the earlier fish dishes were rather fruity, why not a savoury-inspired dessert?

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

L'Imbuto

A refreshing yet alarmingly-melting mint ice cream was then served with celery and radish, so we began to see a pattern of the use of savoury ingredients in our desserts. The next small cup of crème brulée was not ordinary either, but I couldn’t for the live of me recall what made it different. Last but not least, warm courgette “cake” with lemon zest rounded up the meal, and a side of small biscuits to take away.

Overall verdict? We had a good meal, but now and then, we did ask between ourselves if certain plates may have been too experimental for our taste. The egg yolk, for example. Or the courgette cake. On the other hand, the fish dishes were delicious, the ravioli fun to eat, and the steak was a brave venture. At €60 per person, it was good value for such a varied meal. The service was impeccable and our waitress was very informative about each bite that we had. Definitely a place to go for the adventurous eaters!

L’Imbuto
Lu.C.C.A. – Lucca Center Of Contemporary Art
via della Fratta 36, 55100 Lucca
Tel: +39 (0)583 491 280
Tuesday to Sunday; Tasting Menu 20 (lunch only), 40, 60, 90 Euros

All posts in this series:
Italy: Postcards: Centro Storico di Roma | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: 2-hours in Florence | Flickr Photoset
Italy: The walled city of Lucca | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Dining in Lu.C.C.A – L’Imbuto
Italy: Sunsets of Cinque Terre
Italy: The villages of Cinque Terre | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: Lost in Parma
Italy: Bologna: the city of a gazillion porticoes | Flickr Photoset
Italy: The Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca
Italy: Verona: a lot more than a Shakespearean drama | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: In search of Padua
Italy: A very picturesque Bassano del Grappa | Flickr Photoset



Category: Europe, Food & Drink, Italy, Travel

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10 scribbles & notes

  1. Floriane Montanari says:

    Sounds deliciously amazing! Thanks for sharing!
    If you come visit us in Vienna once, we’ve got the perfect restaurant for you guys:
    it’s walking distance from our place, and you have a “surprise menu” for 50€ where only ingredients are listed (so you can be sure that you like them all), and then the chef combines it as he wants and you get a 6-course surprise menu! It’s magic and well done!

    • Lil says:

      Oh that sounds like our kind of place! I’ve planted the idea of visiting Vienna this evening at dinner, so we’ll see if it takes hold ;)

  2. medca says:

    Yeaaayyy….its been sometime since u blog about food kekeke…yummmssss especially the dessert eh :)

  3. sila says:

    the steak looks very yummy… i don’t know about aubergine or courgette in my desserts though ;)

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