Luce is a new neighbourhood joint that's bound to feel familiar to King West locals. The casual Italian eatery and bar occupies the former address of Angelo's and is owned by Mario Giorgio and Maria Strazzanti, the same duo behind The King's Table , the fine foods grocer that once operated next door.
The ambition of the restaurant is truly to cater to the community. Strazzanti jokes that their unofficial delivery zone is more like room service, available only to the condo residents that live on the floors above.
Inside, the decor is still a work in progress, though the atmosphere already achieves a casual and cozy vibe. Crystal chandeliers hang from exposed industrial ceilings while personal touches like vintage family portraits are grouped on raw brick walls.
The Sicilian-inspired menu features small plates, pizzas and pastas. Dishes are named after the most prominent ingredients and descriptions read more like a casual conversation. The menu doesn't bother with even the most common, widely accepted Italian names for dishes; there's Deli/Cheese ($9) as opposed to antipasto and Rice Balls ($7) in place of the more formally named Arancini.
To start I share an order of simple well-seasoned, pan-fried Cauliflower ($8), along with rice balls stuffed with mozzarella and accompanied by house made bolognese dipping sauce.
Pasta dishes like the Broccoli ($9) celebrate simplicity and are generously served in deep bowls. This dish sees penne tossed in a puree of broccoli and garlic, which is then finished with poor man's cheese (a.k.a. toasted bread crumbs).
Pizzas, which are Giorgio's specialty, are billed on the menu only by ingredients. I try the Tomato Mozzarella ($10) which is the most basic of the eight pies on offer, but also the one that best validates the goodness of the housemade sauce and perfectly thin, slightly chewy and foldable crust.
Behind the L-shaped bar, Mort, the personable head bartender chats up regulars as he pulls pints of Flying Monkey and Steam Whistle ($7). For me he crafts a Lady Marmalde ($9), a sweet orange-scented gin libation based on a classic found in the Savoy Cocktail Book.
Luce is open daily from 11am to 2am. The delivery service may one day be expanded to include a few more blocks.
Photos by Jesse Milns