In love with Lucca

Fri. May 21, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Italy must run in the blood, wine and water at 1415 W. 22nd Street in Oak Brook, Ilinois. The space that was formerly Tuscany has now been transformed to Lucca Osteria & Bar thanks to owner Steven Hartenstein. He obviously loves to talk to guests who patron his newly opened establishment as he looks them right in the eye when speaking to them. His staff is right there with him and very friendly, as well as, extremely helpful when deciding what to order. 

The impressive menu was obviously created with loving care by Chef Claudio Ulivieri and has already paid off for the restaurant. The place was packed during my visit and will continue to be, after judging from what I sampled that night. You too will be singing, "That's amore" after visiting. 

We were off to a great start with the calamari. It was truly unique in taste and texture. Sometimes fried calamari can be chewy or too well done. This was neither. It outswam the competition by a mile easily and we were ready for more. 

My friend raved about the next dish, Barbe Rosse, with roasted honey beets, robiola cheese (made from cow, goat and sheep milk) and hazelnuts. 

We quickly moved on to the main dish of carne with the skirt steak in a smooth Italian salsa verde. It was cooked perfectly and once again didn't fall into the common mistakes of being overcooked that happens at some restaurants. 

If you are looking for dinner and a show, then you have come to the right place. Spectators gawked as the fettuccine came rolling out, literally, on a pamigiano-reggiano wheel, with an expert mixing the pasta right on top of the cheese tableside. Usually fettuccine can make one feel heavy or bloated afterwards, but not this time. The housemade pasta kepy things light in a truffle butter that made for a smooth ride. 

For dessert, the tiramisu was bursting with flavor, served in a coffee cup and the chocolate molten cake was just delicious. After dinner drinks included standard coffee drinks, but also strong cocktails were created by mixologist with a nod to the classics such as an aperol spritz made with campari, prosecco and soda. 

Ulivieri was born in a small village in the Italian Province of Lucca and he brings that intimate background into the food. Mark my words, this is just the beginning of the adventure for this venue with unforgettable offerings such as this. Expect bigger crowds to descend upon little Lucca, so make a reservation on OpenTable on the website today. 

You might even have to sit at the bar table when the word gets out, but trust me, it will be worth it!

Visit and find out more about this special place with a big Italian heart.