When it comes to industry trends, you can expect a seasoned veteran like chef and restaurateur Frank Bonanno to pay heed. With a shift toward more casual dining experiences producing a strong current in the restaurant world, Bonanno and his partner and wife, Jacqueline, who serves as creative director to Bonanno Concepts, decided to retrofit Luca d'Italia to keep up with the times.
Three important things happened: the dining room was updated, the kitchen got a major upgrade, and the name is now shorter.
Cosmetic tweaks were made to the dining room: white tablecloths swapped for wooden table tops, more relaxed uniforms for the servers, different artwork, and the space was opened up via the removal of one of the bar's walls. "There will always be a place for a white tablecloth restaurant," Jacqueline Bonanno shares. "For us though, Mizuna fills that role and we found that the two restaurants were competing. We want them to have their own unique identities; the changes we made now better reflect that separation."
The new look and more casual approach in the dining area are mirrored by changes in the kitchen. "We are going back to our roots, what we started out with: Sicilian fare as Frank envisioned it. Our price point is a little lower and the menu reflects what the restaurant is about," Jacqueline explains. The menu has moved away from pushing a prix fixe structure. That option is still available but no longer the main recommendation. An awesome wood-fire grill, crafted by Juno Works, was added to the kitchen. Many of the dishes now served at Luca are touched by the wood fire.
In the name of the restaurant, the "d'Italia" part was quietly dropped a couple months ago."Changing the name is just a natural part of the evolution," Jacqueline says. "It takes away part of the pretension. Plus, people didn't always have an easy time pronouncing it. Now it's easy: Luca!" There is a new sign above the door subtly making that change known to guests.
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