Comfortably Modern - Luce

3499 Market St., Powell, OH 43065, (740) 881-4600

WHAT:
Luce’s been around for a while now, since 2005 in fact. The Tuscan villaesque eatery in northwestern Columbus has evolved much over the years; it’s a place that’s showing its age, although giving it a distinguished appeal. Unlike the trendy spots of downtown, Luce stands as more of a neighborhood haunt at the northern end of the Sawmill corridor. It’s the perfect spot for this area; folks want to enjoy fine dining, but often dread the thought of a drive downtown. And for those near downtown, Luce is the perfect respite from the urban hustle. Here, diners can sample dishes from a seasonal menu while still enjoying mainstays that have always worked. It’s a wine destination as well, and those employed here are happy to tell you all about it. Let’s not forget to mention it’s beautiful here—warm and intimate, yet roomy enough for the entire entourage.

WHO:
It’s between friends here. Former LaScala owners John and Annie Ciotola paired up with buddies Randy and Amy Turturici to create a place for drinking and good times in their neck of the woods, “so we wouldn’t have to go to the Short North,” Annie says. They simply sat around together brainstorming, devising a way to have their own cool place.

WHERE:
Though easy to find, it’s a hike for most people, just under five miles north on Sawmill Road. Once you’re there though, you really do get a feel that this is a neighborhood place. It’s cozy and intimate here, with an open replace, coee tables, the owners’ own artwork speckled on the walls and bulky couches and armchairs scattered throughout.

TEST:
We enjoyed dinner at the bar this sunny evening, a small quiet crowd surrounding us. House bread was first up, chewy ciabatta with tomato marmalade dolloped in Sicilian olive oil—the tomato, very smoky and concentrated in flavor, and the oil so fruity-rich good, deniftily nothing that’s found in the grocery store. We dipped a piece of the bread into the peppery-cool gazpacho that was presented to us next, a bowl brimming with tomatoes, peppers and crispy watermelon. The oil is used here again, so flavorful, it’s easy to spot. 

Super salads hit the spot here, all cool and refreshing. We nibbled on the Caprese Salad, layered with stringy mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and basil. e Beet and Strawberry Salad gets our nod, though, because of the festival of sweet and salty flavors: pickly marinated beets, crumbled goat cheese, strawberries, arugula and pistachios. 

The atmosphere turned feisty as
some bar patrons were taking full advantage of happy hour. The restaurant seemed to turn full swing in a matter of minutes. We could hear a humming coming from the nearby patio as a local musician started in. Next in line for us was a beautifully plated Shrimp and Watermelon dish.

The menu boasts Peroni-poached shrimp, but we didn’t taste it. Still, the little guys were meaty delicious and neatly paired with a salad of watercress, avocado, red onion and cucumber.

We’ve sampled lamb all over town, but Luce’s plate knocked us out. The first thing we noticed upon arrival
was the aroma; our neighbors noticed it, too, turning their heads our way asking what we had. These lollipops ooze juices and are so creamy, melty tender, not to mention a drizzle of a rich port wine reduction beautifully accentuates them. The Vegetable Napoleon, too, wowed us with its crispy, pan-seared goat cheese patty set amidst smoky grilled eggplant and zucchini.

Continuing on with bright, summertime plates, we dove into the Grilled Prawns and Scallops, fashioned with wilted arugula, fingerling potatoes, and a creamy-sweet champagne vanilla buerre blanc sauce bursting with zest. And of course, pasta arrived to round out our bar banquet, and a beefy bowl to boot. ink stroganoff with tomatoes when considering Luce Bolognese. is dish comes with “rag”
or ribbon-like pasta with meaty shreds of beef short rib and wild boar. Rich tomato sauce compliments the bowl,
though there’s very little. e irresistible beefy taste of this bowl shines, and you’ll have a tough time not devouring every
last bit.

“Oohs” and “aahs” abounded again with the presentation of desserts. There’s a chocolate tiramisu here, one laden with strong coffee and liqueur flavors, but the topper on our terric time was the cheesecake with, of all things, olive-oil gelato, tinged green and very unique. Appetites satiated, we caught our breath for the motivation needed to make the long journey home.