Miami-bred chef Giorgio Rapicavoli opened Luca Osteria in Coral Gables in February 2021, smack in the middle of the pandemic, so perhaps there are some people out there who missed it, who haven’t been yet, who’ve had it on their list for months. Correct that right quick, friends, because from the moment it opened its doors, it became one of the 305’s most loved restaurants.
More famous for his two wins on Chopped and for his popular Eating House restaurant, here Rapicavoli pays homage to his heritage. Rapicavoli learned much watching his Italian mom cook before cooking alongside a long list of revered chefs, including Ferran Adrià and Alice Waters. At this charming little neighborhood restaurant, though, it isn’t just about making the classics—Rapicavoli created, or maybe recreated, dishes that are just like nothing else in town, maybe anywhere.
The best example of this has to be the patate fritte, the dish you’ll see all over the internet if you Google this place, and for good reason. It begins with balls of fried potato, as fluffy as a duvet and dotted with bits of black truffle. Over the top of them is a fonduta, a custardy cream that floats like morning fog, silky and savory from Parmigiano and spiked too with truffle. There’s an egg yolk suspended in the center, and it’s best to mix it all up into a swirl of richness and textures that are unique and original. And holy hell, is this among the best dishes in town? Yes, yes it is.
From there, order whatever, because we’ve yet to find an item here that misses. Like the patate fritte, a dish that should never leave the menu is the cacio e pepe, a straight-from-Rome representation of the classic, cheesy and oozy sauce clinging to al dente noodles. Otherwise, this is a menu that’s constantly changing, adding and subtracting items like a tuna caprese with preserved tomato over creamy fior di latte, a panzanella salad where crunchy bread soaks up the juice from super-ripe tomatoes, and grilled monkfish with fennel that seems like the kind of simple-perfect food you’d have at a backyard Sicilian barbecue.
Inside, the vibe is modern-minimalist, with bare dark wood tables, art-free white walls, a generous bar space that provides a fine spot for a quick appetizer (tomato and ‘nduja, spread onto crusty bread, please) and an Americano. Outside, though, is where it’s at, tables under umbrellas and shady trees along pedestrian-only Giralda Plaza. The kids playing nearby and couples strolling along the boulevard, along with the food arriving at your table, will feel very much like you’re having a slow-paced meal in a Milanese plaza.
With Luca, Rapicavoli created a restaurant with a simple slogan: "Good pasta, good people." It’s true that everyone working there seems glad they are, and the plates of pasta are not just good but something far better. Though this place is more than that slogan. It’s a neighborhood hangout, a quick stopover to start the night, a place to celebrate special occasions. If it’s not already, it’s a soon-to-be favorite.