Eatery - LUCCA Cafe (CA) Revisited

Lucca Cafe & Market on Urbanspoon

6507 Quail Hill Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92603
Pricing - $$/$$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Italian

We had promised Chef Cathy that we would come back for a dinner one day since the lunch menu and style is supposedly drastically different from dinner. When we walked in, we noticed right away even though the place was the same decor-wise. The people were dressed a little nicer and the menu was fabulously higher class. We were quite excited.

In fact, instead of just regular bread and butter, we got nice crisps with housemade olive tapenade. Fancy smancy eh? I love olive tapenade and theirs was the perfect mix; atop some crunchy bread crisps, it was a welcome starter as we looked over the menu.

I personally find it hard to resist French onion soup when I'm in a restaurant so we ordered that to start off with. The soup came out oddly in a shallow square bowl but that didn't affect just how good it tasted. It just affected how easily we could spoon up the very last few drops. The soup had a rich melted cheese on top with seasoned toast - the broth was medium-bodied and slowly caramelized onions were apparent in the flavor. Hoorah for this beginning dish.


The pictures captured of the entrees were amazing, not just on Duc's camera but also on Instagram. Actually, our waiter jokingly said to me that he'd find my tags and like the pictures! Anyhow, I ordered the infamous scallops (two pan-seared hand harvested wild Diver Scallops, roasted butternut squash risotto with housemade bacon, leeks, fresh sage, and vanilla bean aioli). If the description itself doesn't have you drooling, I'm not sure what will. The scallops were perfectly soft and practically melted in my mouth when eaten with the smooth creaminess of the risotto. I think my favorite part, however, was the vanilla bean aioli which was very rich and savorily sweet. Duc opted for the "Layers of Pork Tenderloin and Other Stuff" dish (Snake River Farms pork tenderloin, housemade bacon, Cippolini onions in agrodolce, mandolin potatoes, and port wine apple sauce) purely based on its name. Whatever the motivation, it was a very happy choice. The juicy tender tenderloin was just one of the delectable layers in this beautifully presented dish (long rectangular plate allowed for slanted layering!). There was also way too amazing bacon that was thickly cut and pretty much pork belly, crisp potatoes, and sweet apples. What a treat. We'll definitely be coming back.

Photography by Duc Duong.