Writing restaurant reviews can be a challenge. There are only so many ways to communicate that something is ‘delicious’. And what exactly do you say about a restaurant that’s just flat mediocre? These are what we call occupational hazards, and they’re usually solved with a little bit of creativity, or a visit to an online thesaurus (who exactly pays for those to stay in business?). But there is one problem we find ourselves confronting over and over again - describing something that is by nature indescribable.
What we often find ourselves struggling to put into words is the idea that some restaurants just have that special something that makes you excited to be there, no matter how many times you’ve been before. It’s not just the food, it’s not just the service, and it certainly isn’t the flatware and high-end lighting. It’s that thing that you feel inside your gut when you sit down at a restaurant that brings you pure pleasure. We decided to call it The Feel Good Factor. And even though we don’t really know what it is, we do know that Luca has it.
Luca is an Italian restaurant in Farringdon brought to you from the same people behind The Clove Club, which is a very serious restaurant with very serious food. This new venture is serious too, but in a different way. Serious like an Italian, which is to say that it is not fucking around when it comes to food, but it also kind of wants to party. It’s a slick, buttoned up room with a warm, upscale vibe, but it’s also lively and inviting like a kitchen in Tuscany.
If any cuisine was created to make you feel good, it’s Italian food, and Luca might be serving the best Italian food in London right now. The pastas here are the stars of the menu, many of which are handmade every morning on a wood table in a room that doubles as a beautiful private dining space in the evening. Beyond that, you’ll want to lean heavy on the starter side of the menu (see, parmesan fries), and dive deep into their smart wine list which features excellent selections at all range of prices. Finish things off by splitting a few of their phenomenal, creative desserts between your party.
Then again, no matter what your ordering strategy, you just might find yourself ordering an extra round of drinks and a few more orders of pasta, even though it’s a Tuesday night and you have to get up at six and you’re slightly intolerant to gluten.
That’s the The Feel Good Factor at play. Don’t try and fight it. And certainly don’t try to describe it.
These look like savory churros, and they taste like parmesan clouds. That should be enough to convince you.
The buttery crab goes well with the sourdough, or spooned straight into your awaiting gob. A nice way to ease into the meal.
Our favourite of the starters - creamy and salty and meaty, with added pop from the peppers and olives, it’s basically a big plate of sunshine. Codfish sunshine.
Very subtle but very tasty.
This might not be on the menu if you visit the restaurant in the summer, but as far as warming winter dishes go, it’s a good one. It’s the gamiest, most delicious pasta soup you’ve had.
Subtle it ain’t, but this rigatoni is certainly meaty. Hearty and very good indeed.
A classic, taken up a notch. This pasta is light but packs a lot of flavour in a bite.
The mousse looks pretty vulgar when it’s brought to your table, but you’ll get it when you cut it open. It’s dark and sweet, but a little bitter too. The barley ice cream is a nice touch to stop things from getting too rich.
Essentially one of the most decadent apple pies you’ll ever eat, and not a million miles away from the apple crumbles of your childhood. Order it if you see it.