Guest Post by Caryn Donohue, Gramercy Correspondent
Last week my roommate and I were looking for a cute, but more importantly, cheap, restaurant for a catch-up dinner.Â I dug around a little and came across Luca Bar in the East Village which is part of the Luca Lounge restaurant/bar group…but I heard Luca Lounge is now closed – is that true? Anyway, it’s darkly lit with candles and very small, with maybe 12 or so wooden tables and chairs. It was definitely cute, but it’s easy to see how seating could be a problem on busy nights. The real draw for us was the prix fixe menu: $15 for an appetizer, entree and glass of wine or sangria.
I ordered the tomato bruschetta as my appetizer, chicken parm as my meal and a glass of merlot. My roommate had the French onion soup, margarita pizza and a glass of pinot noir. The wines were good, so no complaints there. I really enjoyed my bruschetta – it was pretty heavy on the garlic, but it tasted great. Katie’s French onion soup looked amazing, served in a large crock, and it was much more onion-heavy than broth-heavy. She seemed to enjoy it.Â My chicken parm was large enough to take home a portion for lunch the next day, which I liked, but it wasn’t the best-ever by any stretch of the imagination. It was breaded a little more than I’d prefer, the cheese was good, but the sauce was lacking a bit…but then again I’m picky with tomato sauce. It was good, but it wasn’t great. Katie really liked her pizza, she said it was very simple yet fresh – I tried a bite and liked it as well. She also had more than enough and took home a slice for lunch the next day. Other appetizer options included a chickpea bruschetta and two salads, and other entree options included mussels marinara, a pasta dish and a panini.
Now, if I can remember correctly, the prix fixe menu is available Monday and Wednesday 5-10 pm, Thursday and Friday 5-7 pm, but I can’t remember about Saturday and Sunday…sorry. It’s not available on Tuesdays because they have live Flamenco music later in the night and a paella special ($30 for two people). FYI – the Specials on the site aren’t up-to-date, so if you have any questions, call before going there. I’d recommend this place to anyone looking for a good value, not necessarily great Italian food. The real bonus is the glass of wine/sangria and the large portions which can serve as two meals. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area and on a budget.The Basics Name: Luca Bar Location:Â 119 St. Marks Place, between 1st Ave. and Avenue A Who to take: Friends, a Date Price: Typical NYC. $$. Overall: Put it in the rotation.Â 4 Stars.Â (3.5 stars on food, 5 stars on value)