A recent invitation to dine at Carlucci Restaurant was intriguing, as they had hired a new chef and created a new menu that was showcasing a new, lighter approach. It's been almost 3 years since I last reviewed Carlucci, a take-out meal while our kitchen was being remodeled, so I was interested to see how much things had changed.
Visually, things looked no different - while Carlucci touts itself as a neighborhood joint, aesthetically it's definitely a cut above. Dark furniture, white tablecloths, subdued lighting lend it a luxurious air, though a variety of tchotchkes do make it seem a bit casual at the same time.
New menus: nearly 30 wines available by the glass mean there are some choices, some from Italy, but others ranging further afield. Truthfully, the updated food menu doesn't appear very different than before, though many of the earlier cream sauces are no longer available, replaced instead by broths and other lighter options. Arancini balls (Arancini d'Aragosta) have been updated with the addition of lobster, a positive change according to my son, who accompanied me. Figs and burrata along with greens (Carlucci Burrata) were quite tasty, but make sure to ask for your crostini to be toasted, far better with this dish than the untested bread that starts the meal (though that was amazing in its own right).
Our entrees of Ravioli en Brodo and Radiatori were prime examples of the new menu - neither was a heavy dish in terms of sauce, both tasty, though I thought some additional seasoning could have been used. Servings are adequate, with both of us bringing home leftovers.
A cappucino and desserts are a must to end a meal here, fantastic and a welcome indulgence after the (relatively) healthier fare earlier.
Ultimately, we had a good meal - good food and wine, outstanding dessert. Service was a bit spotty and clearly favored returning guests, not necessarily a bad thing, but something to note. Unless you had a favorite on the previous menu, you're unlikely to be disappointed by any of the changes. Truth be told, I wish they had more decadent options, especially among the pastas, but I understand that many people want lighter entrees, and the desserts more than made up for it.
(A side note: It appears to me that Carlucci has a mini-identity crisis, and solving it will improve its overall appeal. While the luxurious aspects are well-represented, the casual, neighborhood options are a bit jarring (the tchotchkes, prices above casual fare, even the painted dish for the radiatori pasta). These two opposing forces are not harmoniously presented and it would be better, in my opinion, that Carlucci choose a direction, either streamlining by removing the more casual elements or removing the higher prices and toning down the elegance of the design. Nitpicking to be sure, but a conflict I found that takes away from the entire experience.)
This meal was provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.
Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel