Word travels fast in food circles. When a new restaurant comes on the scene, particularly one by a James Beard Award-winning chef who already operates Fiola, one of the District’s most popular Italian restaurants, people notice. After being open for less than two months, Fabio Trabocchi’s Casa Luca is already bringing in the crowds. That vote of confidence is well deserved. Not only is Casa Luca a beautiful space filled with warm family touches, the service is impeccable, and the food is outstanding. Hurry before you will need a White House pass to nab a reservation.
Trabocchi was born and raised in Le Marche, located in the central area of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. In interviews, he has talked about growing up in Le Marche and being greatly influenced by his father, Giuseppe, a farmer who loved to cook. If the dishes featured at Fiola showcase what is served in the region’s fine restaurants, Casa Luca highlights what was served at Trabocchi’s family table.
Casa Luca is all about family.
Trabocchi named the restaurant after his young son, Luca, who, we were told, is already interested in food. Our waiter proudly pointed out to us a black and white photograph of Giuseppe on a motor cycle, one of several lining the walls in the main dining room.
The beautiful glass lighting fixtures were hand made in Mayorga, Spain, where Fabio’s wife, Maria, is from. Other light fixtures are made from rustic-looking linens produced in a factory owned by the Trabocchi family in Le Marche. These white and red linens also hang from the walls, resembling dish towels that might have been used in the Trabocchi family kitchen.
Settled into such a comfortable environment, we were ready to enjoy the wine and food. Casa Luca serves several Donna Laura wines on tap, including Prosecco, which arrived with proper effervescence.
All the dishes on the menu can be shared, a bonus allowing us to sample many more of the restaurant’s offerings. We began with a plate of Mangalitsa prosciutto, known for its sweet taste and creamy fat, served with horned-shaped biscuits. It’s often said that Mangalitsa prosciutto comes from the gold standard of pigs. Certainly what we enjoyed at Casa Luca more than fit that description. The prosciutto was silky, fragrant, not overly salty, the generous fat complimenting rather than overpowering the meat.
Casa Luca does not serve bread baskets. Instead, guests may choose from several pane della Marche. We chose the Marche classic cheese bread served with buffalo butter. Heaven! The bread was golden on the outside, cheesy on the inside and went perfectly with the tomato salad.
We shared a half order of the smoked potato gnocchi with classic duck ragu and cremini mushrooms. Although this hearty dish is perhaps better enjoyed in cold weather, we couldn’t resist ordering it. The gnocchi were light and we were glad we still had some of the bread left to dip into the rich sauce.
Fabio Trabocchi planes to open Fiola Mare in Georgetown sometime soon. We can’t wait. But in the meantime, we have two fabulous restaurants to enjoy, Fiola and Casa Luca.
1099 New York Avenue NW