LUCCA has been referred to as “an urban concept in a suburban center” with many facets – it is an inviting space where casual friendliness quickly meets a few chic big-city elements, including cozy tables on a large banquette, a gas-burning fireplace and sensual curved features.
Having joined the Orange County dining landscape in 2005, LUCCA in Irvine has become known for its one-of-a-kind menu, reminiscent of a Euro bistro, complete with an exquisite wine bar, wide selection of cheese and charcuterie offerings and seasonal tasting menus. In addition to off-site catering and Lucca2Go, the eatery offers sandwiches, salads and pastas on its lunch menu, but come dinnertime the café changes to a European-type bistro that serves small plates, cheese and charcuterie.
LUCCA’s menu is based on the use of healthy and high quality ingredients, such as certified Angus beef, free-range turkey, hormone-free chicken, wild salmon and locally grown organic produce. The bar features a unique wine list with more than 30 wines by the glass, with a choice of 2.5-ounce or 6-ounce pour of wine, encouraging guests to be adventurous with their selections.
Executive Chef Cathy Pavlos is the driving force behind this most unique and dynamic eatery. Having grown up in a typical close-knit large Italian family, most of her childhood memories of family have to do with cooking with her grandmother for Sunday family gatherings. Though educated as an architect and an art historian, and despite more than 20 years in architectural practice and as a college professor, Cathy has always been drawn back to cooking. Having traveled to Italy every year for the past 30 years, Cathy has been developing a collection of remarkable recipes, inspired by her grandmother’s cooking and her favorite restaurants in Italy, France and Greece. These recipes, seen on LUCCA’s menu, have been slightly modified to build in the flavors of California with its emphasis on the use of healthy and high quality ingredients, such as certified Angus beef, free-range turkey, hormone-free chicken, wild salmon and locally grown organic produce.
Chef Cathy’s husband, Elliott, oversees LUCCA’s impressive wine list, and his passion for fine wines shows in the restaurant’s unique wine list, which features more than 30 wines by the glass, with a choice of 2.5-ounce or 6-ounce pour of wine, encouraging guests to be adventurous with their selections.
LUCCA’s Sunday Suppers, held the second Sunday of every month, have become extremely popular, selling out months in advance, as LUCCA takes guests on a tour of various European and Mediterranean regions during every dinner.