Lucca Restaurant is one of the top dinnertime destinations in Des Moines for high-quality food, style, and service and it is one of the the top restaurants in the East Village. We recently visited and had, as usual, wonderful meals. The crowd included a split between old and young, in keeping with the higher prices. Reservations are accepted and I recommend them. Lucca does offer some extra bar-style seating if you can’t wait. Speaking of the bar, the wine list is small but we had no complaints with the wine that we ordered. I do not believe that Lucca offers any beer or hard liquor.
The ambiance was classy, with a piano player going through some well-known standards. The decor is rehab-contemporary, with exposed and distressed brick and modern furnishings. Artwork is very spare and service is efficient. In a lot of ways, I think that Lucca is partly responsible for making the East Village the success that it is today. Sticks brought established credentials with its art and furniture, Noodle Zoo brought large and continuous crowds for its excellent lunches, and Lucca set the bar for high-end lunches and dinners. Together, it and many other innovative stores like Projects, Raygun, Aimee and Kitchen Collage made the East Village a great place to shop and even live, and not just another collection of antique stores and used clothes shops.
The dinner menu was prix fixe style, with a first and second course offered for a flat $30. Desserts were $8. The selections change nightly, so there is no menu online. The first course is not limited to salads. We tried the Brie and Gemelli in a marinara sauce, Asparagus Bagan Cauda with brie bruschetta, and Mixed Greens with artichoke bruschetta. as with all Lucca dishes all were superb. I really enjoyed the Brie and Gemelli.
For the second course the waiter recommended the rolled chicken couscous and it was indeed fabulous. Get it if you see it on the menu. The scallops in a bed of peas were perfectly cooked and succulent. I tried the Braised Pork shoulder in fettuccine with grilled carrots and potatoes. The pork was fork-tender. There were several other dishes that we did not try, including beef and halibut. I believe that there was a non-meat selection as well. A hallmark of Lucca is that the portions are adequate with little to no danger of generating “doggie bags.” Not too long ago we had dinner at Centro and I had enough food left over to provide another two meals. Not so with Lucca. Instead, the focus is on quality and that quality is uniformly superb, especially if owner and chef Steve Logsdon is presiding over the kitchen — and preside he does. It is clear who is in charge when he is there.
Lunch:Tuesday through Saturday 11am until 2pm
Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday from 5pm-10pm