Caffe De Luca is located in a lively section of Forest Park among a cluster of restaurants and bars. It consists of a large main dining room on the first floor with tables along one wall and a very long bar on the opposite wall. The tables are fairly comfortable but the atmosphere feels more like a barroom than a dining room. There is also outdoor seating in front on busy Madison Ave. and a second floor room used for private parties. The place is decorated in a faux-Italian style that comes off as being artificial. The menu provides a fair assortment of antipasti and pastas with limited meat and fish dishes.
I consider one of the hallmarks of a good Italian restaurant to be the quality of the table bread. So dining there on a recent Saturday night as a first-time customer I looked forward to tasting the bread. Well, the bread was so bad that I had thought that somehow a mistake had been made. It was served sliced with a very soft texture akin to American commercial bread without any crust and was tasteless and somewhat stale. I told our waiter about the problem and asked for a replacement. Our waiter was accommodating and brought out a new portion, however, it was as lousy as the first.
One of my favorite Italian dishes is braciola. The menu described this dish as “Tender flank steak stuffed with prosciutto, Parmesan, and arugula, Panko bread crumbs, topped with tomato mushroom sauce over creamy polenta.” I ordered it expecting that the braciola would be a whole roll or two of meat that I would slice. However, the meat came sliced and placed on a bed of polenta covered in tomato sauce. After cutting the meat for a while the pieces became enmeshed in the polenta, resulting in a somewhat unappetizing, mushy mixture. The polenta tasted good but the braciola, although tender, was just fair. To the credit of this restaurant, the wait service was competent and accommodating.
Café De Luca is not recommended because of its and bland food and marginal ambiance.
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