We should have started with dessert at Lucco Cuccina & Bar in Florham Park, as it was the best part of our dinner. The housemade creamy mascarpone cheesecake with a graham cracker crust was strewn with fresh cut strawberries and the apple crostada topped with caramel sea salt gelato and caramel sauce were both terrific. The rest of our meal was hit and miss.
Although bread and olive oil were placed on the table, we ordered a Margherita pizza to nosh on while studying the menu. The pie was satisfactory but not a cut above others.
A fresh tasting salad of baby arugula, radicchio, endive, Gorgonzola and pine nuts that was dressed with a lemon vinaigrette was our favorite appetizer. Large rounds of fried zucchini were crunchy but none of us cared for the lemon basil aioli dipping sauce. Roasted Brussels sprouts, which should have been crispy, were instead soggy from the sherry vinegar and honey sauce. Other tempting sfizi (hors d’oeuvres) and antipasti offered were bruschetta, eggplant caponata, grilled octopus, meatballs and Tuscan roast pork belly.
Pastas were good and very good. The clams topping linguini were well seasoned but the garlic, white wine and chile flake sauce on the pasta needed to be zestier. Flavorful orecchiette with sweet sausage, broccoli rabe, caramelized onion and roasted garlic was the best entrée. The coating on the eggplant parmigiana was too thick but it was beautifully served in a cast iron skillet. Unfortunately Lowell’s pork chop ordered medium rare was served well done. The meat was tough and the accompanying vegetables of pepperonata, onions and roast potato were drenched in a sauce that was too sweet.
Above the white tile wall of the open kitchen is the maxim “Mangia. Bevi. Vivi.” (translated to “Eat. Drink. Live.”) welcoming you to the restaurant. A square bar takes up a large portion of the dining room and clothless tables with wood chairs add to the casual ambiance. The high ceiling, a brick wall, background music and no drapes on the window all enhanced the deafening noise level.
Wines range from $8 to $15 a glass, bottles from $26 to $90 with many in the $30 to $40 range. Housemade sangria by the glass is $9 and cocktails are $12.
Lucco is part of the Park Restaurant Group which also owns the Hills Tavern and Pizzeta in Millburn and Pizzeta Enoteca and the Landmark in Livingston.
Lucco Cucina & Bar, 207 Ridgedale Ave, Florham Park; 973-822-0066. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 AM for lunch and dinner. Sunday from 3 PM.Click here to leave a comment