Luca's Cafe (1230 E. Fort Ave., Locust Point, 443-708-5694) is the kind of place where you feel comfortable bringing a month-old baby or celebrating a big-number birthday. Or once the young-uns and oldsters vamoose, showing up with a special date or just yourself. You enter the bar area and can settle in there or head to a table in the downstairs or upstairs dining rooms. Handsome wood floors, paneling, and paintings by local artists add charm and cheer. Luca's pizzas are in a class by themselves—thin crusts, roasted toppings, clever interpretations. Our vegetable pizza with arugula, baby squash, and broccoli rabe wowed even the pizza hater in our group. We started with an intriguing Shrimp on the Fire, four colossal shrimp with heads on in a wicked tomato sauce heated with jalapeños. We also dunked baguette slices into The Dip, an addictive mix with Reggiano mascarpone and basil pesto. There was crab in it, too, but it wasn't really necessary for the rich flavor. We moved on to Hungarian goulash, a savory stew with potato gnocchi. But the stunner was the fish of the day—a perfectly prepared, whole Florida dorade (a type of dolphin fish) in a crisp polenta crust. Don't leave without sampling the knockout chocolate bread pudding.
Gourmet pizzas and creative entrees give an edge to Luca's in Locust Point.
Issue date: June, 2008