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Luca’s Wood Fired Pizza, under new ownership, serves up some mighty fine wood fired pizzas


Dacia Price

Sausage Pesto

We are a nation of pizza lovers, from the greasy thin crusted slices of New York City, to the deep dish pies of Chicago, even Southern California is popping out new and exciting artisan creations every day. In America we eat almost as much pizza as we do burgers. And, it turns out, that’s not a bad thing. Pizza, when made with fresh, natural, whole ingredients can actually be good for you. (Something I like to tell myself every Saturday afternoon when the craving cannot be ignored.) But finding good pizza is tough, and when you’re out here choices can be slim.

Let me be clear, I’m not talking about your average take-and-bake, nor your home delivery variety (though the latter would be pretty amazing with the right pie). What I crave is the hand tossed dough, stretched and perfectly seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, sauces reminiscent of our mother’s kitchens with bright tomatoes, garlic and herbs, or fresh pesto saturated with pine nuts and basil, and don’t get me started on cheese! I want dollops of Mozzarella, fresh and warm, shaves of Asiago or just the lightest dusting of grated Parmesan. I want veggies harvested and seasonal and cut to order, meats that are packed with flavor and which lend their oils to enhance rather than overwhelm. What I want is Luca’s. Or, at least, from now on, what I want is Luca’s. You see, until this past weekend, I knew nothing about this little gem hidden amid the plazas on the west side of the lake, and now I’m spreading the word.

But I’ll start by being honest. When it was suggested I try this place for my as-yet-unsatiated cravings, I was hesitant. Because although all of us can make pizza, very few can create something that’s really good. Often when I venture out to a new place I’m greeted by pies that are limp and greasy, covered in processed flavorless cheese, with a smattering of veggies devoid of texture. In short, I’m met with your standard American delivery pizza which bares little resemblance to its Italian counterpart. You see pizzas in Italy are meant to showcase all their elements individually, yet cohesively.

You’re meant to taste the crust, the sauce, the veggies and meats, and the cheese is intended to bind those flavors together with elegance, not to drip and ooze between your fingers. Of this, Luca’s understands.  

They make pizzas that are bright and flavorful, fresh, light and a pleasure to consume. The crusts are perfectly seasoned and cooked to so they balance, easily, crisp and soft. The cheese is never generous the sauces always uniform, to allow each pie to showcase its unique flavors effortlessly. At Luca’s you’re eating pies the way they’re intended to be eaten: hot from the stone oven, and made to order.

In fact, the first thing you’ll see when walking in, is that charming oven. Its sight is welcome, and (for me) enough to subdue my reservations.

The rest of the décor leaves much to be desired. It is dated, well worn, and more than a little haphazard, as they are seemingly trying to blend the old world charm of a pizzeria with Lake Steven’s propensity towards the ‘dive bar’. The confusion left me disappointed.

Aesthetics, however, can be tossed aside when distracted by superb fare, and that’s where Luca’s mostly nailed it. Their happy hour is robust, budget conscious and packed with flavor. I began with the Bruschetta and olive accompaniment and found myself wishing I had ordered two, for no other reason than the love I found in each bite. The Roasted Vegetable Panini was generous (a half order is all that’s needed for this dish) complex and tasty, though the soup that made it a meal was much too sweet and slightly over cooked, one bite was enough. But this didn’t matter, because the sandwich was wonderful and all I really wanted.

The pizzas which followed I could describe in detail for longer than you’ll care to listen, but suffice to say, Luca’s won my heart with each one. Familiar, thoughtful, comforting, all words one wouldn’t normally ascribe to food, yet in Luca’s case they fit. Although not the perfect rendition of Neopolitan’s thin crusted simplicity, they all hold their own along side Tuscany, with their crisp yet chewy crust and variety of toppings. If Luca’s becomes known for nothing except their pizzas, that’s fine, because as far as I’m concerned they do pizzas better than anywhere else I’ve tried north of Seattle, and as my family’s pizza habit could keep them in business, I expect they’ll continue to do just fine.

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