Every once in a while, I peruse the Toronto Life website to see the new restaurants that have opened that I haven’t heard of and that we might be able to go to. I was thrilled to come across Luce, a newly opened rustic Italian restaurant on King Street West near Niagara Street. I called the restaurant and asked my usual questions, and I was more than satisfied, so, I made a reservation right away.
The inside of the space is very simple with cozy lights, a warm atmosphere, a partly opened kitchen and a large bar with dark wood panelling and rustic looking wooden shelves.
My mother and I got a table right at the window, which is really a garage door that they will open in the summer time, and will make that spot extra bright. Our server at first didn’t have the answers to my plethora of questions, like what their gluten-free pizza crust was made from, but she went and came back with every answer, and we were ready to order.
First we ordered a couple of things to share off their “Graze” menu, which could probably make up an entire meal, Italian Tapas style for a small or large group as the choices were great. We settled on two things we don’t make at home, a fresh potato salad (no mayo! they even exclaim their enthusiasm for that fact right on their menu!) with celery, fennel, purple onion, various potatoes, including purple ones, all sitting in a light red wine vinaigrette (see picture below). If you get this, make sure to smash the potatoes lightly with the back of your fork so they soak up the delicious dressing after you’ve eaten all of the crunchy vegetables. We also indulged in fried cauliflower, which was so good, especially with their house made hot sauce. Their hot sauce recipe is a secret, it’s that good. I’m a sucker for any house made condiment, it was great!
After much discussion we decided on our mains. My mom was excited that there was a vegan dish with protein and ordered a gluten-free pasta (yes, they have gluten-free options for everything it seemed!) with a simple lentil, celery and onion combo. She loved it, but beware, they give HUGE portions of pasta, so you might want to share! They also have a section for low-carb meals which instead of pasta was a mix of vegetables with tomato sauce and your choice of protein. They call it the Italian version of a stir-fry. We’ll try that next time!
Even I need to admit what I ordered was a little bizzare. I ordered a pizza with roasted red peppers, red onions and mushrooms, daiya cheese instead of their mozzarella, and their gluten-free crust that they make in house with brown rice, and asked for the prosciutto to be left on the side (well sourced and nitrate free). The moral of my order, is that although they don’t like substitutions because everything is made to taste a specific way and substitutions tamper with their taste creation, they allow a vegan swap for the cheese, a gluten-free swap for the crust, and meat to be put on the side. That’s what I call a crowd pleaser, and you probably will too!
Even though the warning on the bottom of their menu claims that the chef, Maria, yells, that cannot be true, as I had the opportunity to meet Maria, and she was so kind and doesn’t seem like a yelling person. Maybe it’s just her passion, for good, simple, sustainable foods.
One little thing that’s really a big thing is that I would like them to change their takeout containers since the ones they use are styrofoam. For a nice little organic place, I was shocked when I got it! Also to note, we don’t normally take food home, as we rarely have leftovers, which should tell you how large the portions are at Luce – amazing!
Overall, Luce was a great little Italian spot – nothing fancy, very simple like you might cook at home, and should please anyone, including little kids.