MIAMI – Award-winning Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s motto for his Luca Osteria was clear.
The words “Good pasta, Good people,” were displayed on the back of his tee shirt.
“That’s what you’re about, right?,” asked CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo.
“That’s what we’re all about,” said Rapicavoli.
Located on Giralda Avenue in Coral Gables, Luca Osteria is Rapicavoli’s vision of recreating his family’s timeless Italian dishes with his own special twists.
“It’s my dream,” he said. ” I’m Italian American. I’m a first-generation American in my family. I grew up eating these foods and these flavors and traveling to Italy. To open an Italian restaurant was always a dream of mine. We named the restaurant after my son Luca.”
Rapicavoli knew he had to be more forward-thinking when it came to opening another Italian restaurant in Coral Gables. So both the menu and the vibe are fresh and different.
On a busy Saturday night, you might hear classic hip hop music.
“It has this bustling bistro kind of environment. The restaurant is usually quite full. It’s loud and boisterous and quite fun,” Rapacavoli said.
He’s also well aware of the times we are in.
“It’s tough for a lot of people to go out and spend money on dinner now,” said Petrillo.
“Absolutely. I think the most important thing is to provide a complete experience. It goes to the service, drinks, the atmosphere, the food, and the value in the food. It’s just like a great neighborhood spot and I think it is,” Rapicavoli said.
There are eight kinds of pasta on the menu which are all first pressed, then made fresh nightly.
Lisa Petrillo sat down with Rapicavoli for a sampling of the menu. They began their tasting with their signature dish, Pasta al Limone with butter, cream, cheese, and a whole lemon.
“It’s clean and light and fresh,” said Rapicavoli.
“That’s what I was going to say. I saw you put the butter and the cream in it, and you don’t taste the heaviness. You just taste that its light, fresh, and an unbelievable pasta,” said Petrillo.
Next, Pasta alla Nina with roasted red pepper, Calabrian chilis & burnt breadcrumbs.
“The pasta is shaped like a radiator. This pasta is named after my mom. She’s a big fan of spice,” said Rapicavoli.
“You should keep your day job,” said Petrillo
“I will try,” said Rapicavoli. “This is also like one of the first times I’ve actually sat down and eaten in my own restaurant.”
“You see that’s why you’re on Taste the Town today,” laughed Petrillo.
“Yeah that’s cool,” he said.
They then sampled a creative twist on Panzanella, made with hand smashed heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, croutons, and green basil before ending with Anto’s Tiramisu, named after his Aunt Antonello’s homemade recipe.
“Vanilla bean mascarpone, Italian ladyfingers, soaked in coffe and marsala,” Rapicavoli said.
“What a way to end it, that’s all I have to say,” said Petrillo.
Luca Osteria is open Tuesday through Sunday with dinner starting at 5:30 p.m.
Here are two of the Luca Osteria recipes from their tasting.
1 (12 to 16 ounce) loaf of artisan bread (8 to 10 very full cups)
2 to 3 large heirloom tomatoes or two pints of baby heirloom tomato
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup basil leaves
1-2 oz aged Balsamic vinegar
Slice or tear the bread into roughly 1-inch cubes, toss with 2 ounces of olive oil, and bake in a 300°F oven until hardened and golden on the outside, about 20-25 minutes. Reserve and allow to cool.
Combine the remaining olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper in a jam jar. Shake vigorously. Alternatively, combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify.
Combine the olive oil croutons and chopped tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top and use a spatula to thoroughly combine. Add half of the basil and combine. Season with additional salt if needed.
Serve with remaining leave of ripped basil, olive oil & aged balsamic.
PASTA AL LIMONE
Ingredients (for eight people):
800g Fresh Pasta (something short, like Gemelli, penne, trofie)
24 oz Heavy Cream
6 oz European Butter
6 Lemons, zested & juiced
Salt for the dish and the pasta water
8 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
In a pan, add half of the butter and slowly melt.
Add the lemon zest and heat to bring out essential oils.
Add all the cream and reduce it by half – it should take about five minutes.
Add the fresh pasta and a small amount of water. Cook until the pasta is al dente.
Season with salt and lemon juice, and finish with the other half of the butter.
Serve with Parmigiano Reggiano