Best Spaghetti House That Isn't

Bella Lucca

With a name like "Bella Lucca," you'd think it was just another neighborhood pasta palace. But this tiny restaurant has more to offer than rigatoni. Sure, there's a melodious Italian inflection to much of Executive Chef Demetrios Atheneos' contemporary Continental menu, but it is revealed, not in platters of spaghetti and meatballs, but in such entrées as sautéed Provimi veal medallions, with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a splash of marsala-infused veal reduction. On the other hand, dishes like sesame-and-peppercorn-crusted seared ahi tuna, with ginger-scented jasmine rice and spicy peanut sauce, are no more Italian than chopsticks. Then there are the ephemeral crab cakes, the custard-like scallops, and the veal chop that was so good, we wanted to gnaw the bone. Does this make Bella Lucca an Italian restaurant? Italian-inspired, certainly. But just another spaghetti house? Not on your life.