After a successful drive from Interlaken to Lucerne without getting lost (thanks to the co-driver, Diva!) and a visit to the monumental Pilatus, we were looking forward to spending a nice, relaxed evening over a delicious dinner with my aunt and uncle from London, who joined us on our Lucerne leg of the Swiss tour.
I stumbled across La Cucina after looking for Italian restaurants in Lucerne online.Siand it had rave reviews. Diva reserved us a table and we drove into Lucerne (we were staying at the Holiday Inn Express Luzern-Neuenkirch in Rothenburg, 15 minutes away from Lucerne).After parking a few streets over, we sauntered into the restaurant. Outside, there were a group of musicians serenading a lady on her balcony across the road.
With sophisticated furnishings including wooden tables and bistro-style chairs, chandeliers, an attractive wooden ceiling and pillars, La Cucina, located on the ground floor of Hotel Astoria was beautiful. The host at La Cucina was welcoming and they immediately got us a table by the show kitchen.Featured in the Michelin Guide 2017, Michelin Guide 2018 and a score of 13 points with Gault Millau, La Cucina was rather popular and quite busy.Our server of the night: Luigi (yes, he acknowledged the Mario Kart relation immediately) was prompt and immediately gave us the menus. Full of authentic Italian cuisine made with fresh quality ingredients, the menu had a plethora of antipasti, risottos, pasta, wood-fired oven-made pizzas, meat and fish dishes, with an accompanying wine list and dessert menu.
While we decided what to order, Luigi brought a water glass, ready with a straw. I was surprised as I usually have to ask first for a straw every time I order a drink. Then we ordered a 2016 Chateau d’Auvernier ‘Oeil de Perdrix’ Rose, a Swiss rosé made with the pinot noir grape in Neuchatel, a wine region of western Switzerland. It was light and pale pink with fruity tones and slightly sweet aftertaste. Even for the wine glasses, Luigi brought me a range of wine glasses to choose from so that I could pick the perfect size for me. So thoughtful!Diva and I decided to order a Pizza Dello Chef off the seasonal menu. Mom got a Cream of Tomato with Fresh Basil and Olive Bruschetta. Dad got the classic Penne Pomodoro. My uncle ordered the Homemade Ravioli with Asparagus and Ricotta, while my aunt got the Margherita pizza. Luigi kindly ensured that all our dietary requirements were met.
As we waited for the food, we snacked on the bread baskets on the table. Nothing beats some good fresh bread!I didn’t try the Margherita pizza that was topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella, but it looked really delicious especially with its charred crusts. Mom’s tomato soup also looked creamy and warming to the soul. I did sneak a bite of Dad’s pasta and it was a classic. The perfect dish to quell the pickiest eaters out there. The al dente penne cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce with some garlic for that extra oomph was a match made in heaven.Diva and I had to sneak a bite of the homemade ravioli which was cooked in a butter and sage sauce. I usually don’t enjoy this sauce but there may have been something about Swiss butter that may have made this sauce delectable. And the combo of asparagus and ricotta is one that I’ve never had before, but it was delightful. The asparagus brightened up this otherwise heavy dish, giving it a summery touch. (Sorry, we forgot to photograph it #Oops.)
Now for our pizza! Our Pizza Dello Chef, which translates to Chef’s pizza in Italian, was incredible. A white-sauce pizza topped with San Daniela ham (that we asked to be omitted), cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, burrata and fresh basil. The mozzarella, the creamy burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) and the white sauce were rich and velvety, especially on the charred crust. And paired with the cherry tomatoes, for that pop of tart, and fresh basil to round out the creamy tones, this pizza was an incredible indulgence.Of course, despite being full, we had to try some dessert. One of their house specialties is the Tiramisu. Made of layers of ladyfingers dipped in coffee and a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavored with some spirit and then dusted heavily with cocoa, it was delicious. I absolutely loved it as each bite was full of the complex flavors of mascarpone, cocoa and coffee.Stuffed and perhaps close to falling into a food coma, as the restaurant slowed down, we went to find the car before heading back to our hotel to rest after a long, successful day of sightseeing and eating some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had.
La Cucina is located at:
Photos by Diva Shah