Jul 19 2012
Italians do all the important things in life well – shoes, bags and food. Most people enjoy Italian food, but it can sometimes be too heavy for a tropical climate. Bali institution La Lucciola, located a stone’s throw from Petitenget temple on one side, and the thundering Indian ocean on the other, manages to put a fresh spin on classic Italian, adding a contemporary and sometimes fusion take on well-known dishes.
A large alang-alang roofed structure forms the airy restaurant, which is separated from the beach by only a wide patch of grass. The best views are offered from the upper deck, where diners are cooled by the same breeze keeping the vendors’ kites afloat outside — do book ahead to snare a front row one of these. On arrival a waiter seated us at an upstairs table overlooking the beach, placed pretty blue and white patterned napkins on our laps, and took our drinks order. This attentive service continued throughout the meal — when our granita melted a little too quickly, the saucer was whisked away and replaced with a fresh one unasked, which was a sweet touch.
As this was a working lunch — ahem — we eschewed the (pricey, though as always in Bali) wine, and tried fresh and fruity granitas – lychee and lime, and a mixed berry. While looking through the interesting and descriptive menu, complimentary lamb-filled appetisers as well as steaming fresh bread rolls with butter arrived at the table.
Being vegetarian, I am often sorely disappointed at the selection available at mainstream restaurants, but not so at La Lucciola, where I selected an asparagus, goats cheese and lemon risotto, which came with a generous portion of grana padano cheese. Risotto, if not cooked properly can resemble plastering cement, but this was light and fluffy and the zest of the lemon broke the richness of the cheese.
Ms Travelfish ordered from the daily specials menu – an Italian countryside dish of zucchini flowers stuffed with pumpkin and Gorgonzola, which was pretty enough to be the table centrepiece (though maybe a touch light on the Gorgonzola). Although coated in batter, it was not greasy — another tick well done to the chef.
In the interest of research we had to order two desserts, as well, um, sharing wouldn’t have offered enough perspective. Ms Travelfish again ordered from the daily specials – a dessert with a mouthful of a name: lemon zabaglione, biscotti crumbs, limoncello meringue and vanilla gelato. The lemon was face-scrunching sour, but well balanced by the sweetness of the meringue and ice cream.
My choice was a classic tiramisu with a Kahlua anglaise. A sign of a good dessert chef is seeing your dessert speckled with little tell-tale black dots of real vanilla, present here – no self-respecting chef would use that nasty fake essence. Although my choice was good, Ms Travelfish won this round with her choice. The accompanying coffee arrived with a crispy hazelnut biscotti on the side.
The lunch main courses mostly range from 55,000 to 95,000 rupiah, while a separate dinner menu sees mains start at 150,000 and top out at 190,000 rupiah. Desserts are a standard 40,000 rupiah. (There’s also a brunch menu for Saturdays and Sundays from 09:00.) These prices are exclusive of 10% tax and 6% service charge.
The menu offers a good selection of seafood, chicken, meat and veggie options. The lunch menu includes a rustic pizza with chorizo, roast eggplant, rosemary and mozzarella; house-cured salmon salad with snow peas, baby potatoes and mustard aioli as well as prawn and snapper pie with fennel and rocket.
Dinner choices include pan-seared Tasmanian salmon with baby beetroot, asparagus, shallots, watercress and a vanilla hollandaise, or meat lovers can try the tagliatelle with a slow-roasted veal ragu.
Sunset drinks at the attached Frangipani bar is a lovely spot worthy of a diversion. And if you’re staying in the Seminyak area and you’re looking for a special spot to eat, La Lucciola should be on your short list. Although not cheap, it’s well worth the price when taking the quality of ingredients, innovative menu options, setting and attentive service into account. Now for a second helping of that risotto …
T: (0361) 730 838
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