Our meal began with Insalata di Fichi e Caprino panato, which was a beautifully plated fig salad with goat cheese. The figs were perfectly ripe, pink, plump, and juicy and the delicately fried goat cheese was thinly breaded, soft, rich, and creamy. The combination of slices of fig with warm, gooey goat cheese was absolute bliss. After beginning to cast his spell of genius on me with the first course, Luca continued to hypnotize me as he served us Polpo alla Griglia con Burrata or grilled octopus with burrata and blistered cherry tomatoes. Looking at the dish was like staring at a piece of artwork. From the glossy, red tomatoes, to the
Let me start by saying that the meal I am about to describe was, hands down, the most incredible meal we've had in Lucca! I want to thank "True Tuscan" Chef Cesare Casella for his outstanding recommendation! St. Bartholomeo Rue Prudente Deli and Diner is a modern, yet rustic, beautifully decorated, romantic restaurant located just outside the Piazza Anfiteatro within the walls of Lucca. While the words "deli" and "diner" are in this restaurants name, don't expect the type of fare you may typically associate with these terms because the dining experience, and it was an experience, at St. Bartholomeo Rua Prudente was, in my eyes, worthy of being my last supper. As we walked through the outdoor seating area into the candlelit dining room we met Luca who is not only the owner of St. Bartholomeo, but a gracious host, attentive server, and overall charming, modest, and warm gentleman. Before showing us to our table, he mixed a delicious aperitif and spent some time talking about Tuscan life, wine, and cuisine with The Skinny Chef and I. We knew we were in for a real treat when he offered to select plates from the menu for us and like children waiting to open our presents on Christmas morning, we couldn't wait to see, smell, and taste each dish.
stark white burrata, to the polpo with hues of pink and deep purple, to the razor thin slices of orange zest; I was in a trance. I couldn't wait to slice into the burrata and watch the creamy, milky inside gently ooze out. The polpo was seasoned and cooked with an expert hand, as the texture was just right. Building the perfect bite with a slice of tomato, burrata, polpo, and orange peel was easily done and once it hit my lips it was pure heaven.
It was as though Luca knew me for years because with each plate came another one of my favorite foods and the next course was no exception...Moules Frites - Cozze alla Belga (con patatine fritte). This dish may very well be the best thing I have ever eaten! The mussels were perfectly cooked and ajar just enough for me to see the succulent meat inside, but wait...I'm not done...the mussels were soaking in a bath of rich, savory sauce made with butter, sautéed garlic and scallions, and smooth, tangy sour cream that was good enough to drink. As if smothering each mussel in this delectable sauce wasn't enough to satisfy you, they were accompanied by a side of thin-cut french fries that were the perfect, salty, crispy companion. I thought I was in heaven with the last dish, but this course truly took me to the pearly gates. As we continued on what I will call our ascension, two servings of Cotoletta alla Milanese con Rucola, Fragole e Pure were placed before us. The veal Milanese was thinly pounded, breaded, and fried to perfection. Slicing into the meat was like running a hot knife through butter and it was so fresh I could taste the milk the calves fed on before sacrificing their lives for our pleasure. Accompanied by a peppery rocket salad with bright red strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar as well as a potato puree, this dish was well balanced and extremely satisfying.
For our last course, Luca served the Tartara di Manzo con Pinzimonio or beef tartare with Pinzimonio. Playfully plated like an open-faced sandwich, the tartare was gently placed on a bed of crisp carrots, celery, and potato chips made in house with a slice of toasted bread on the side. The deep red, beautifully marbled and sliced meat was so tender it seemed as though it was lightly seared, but it wasn't. Each bite melted in my mouth as the flavor of the incredibly fresh meat mixed with the salty, briny capers, crisp potato chip, carrot, celery, and extra virgin olive oil came together in perfect harmony.
Just when I thought there couldn't possibly be more, we were given our dessert options and it was so difficult to choose, but we decided on tiramisu and torta di mele or an apple tart. The tiramisu was presented in a wide-mouth cocktail glass in a deconstructed manner with thin, freshly baked ladyfingers moist with espresso lining the circumference, a sweet cream filling in the center, and slivers of rich chocolate on top; it was delicious from start to finish. The torta di mele was absolutely beautiful with a flaky, golden-brown puff pastry base topped with thin slices of caramelized apples, and a sweet, whip cream like custard; it was the perfect way to end a remarkable meal. St. Bartholomeo Rua Prudente Deli and Diner is a restaurant that truly has it all from the atmosphere and decor to the outstanding service to the unforgettable food that I will crave until I return. Now that I know what heaven is, I can't wait to go back!