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Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
February 18, 2011     Cape Gazette
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February 18, 2011

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Cape Gazette FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18 - MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2Oll 35 I, Small space offers home-style meals By Henry J. Evans Jr. A trip to Baltimore, Philadel- phia or New York is no longer necessary to dine on gourmet quality Italian cuisine. Luca Ris- torante & Enoteca opened just before Christmas in Millsboro. "We had a big Christmas party here, and it just went right into the new year," said David Jones, restaurant owner. Luca is in the old Delaware Trust Co. Bank. "It was built back in the 1900s. The earliest I've traced it back to was about 1917," Jones said. He said structurally the build- VISIT LUCA Luca, at 303 Main St., Millsboro, is open from 5 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, ahd from'5 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Monday; Reservations are recommended. Gift certif :ates are a ilable. Call Luca at 934- 822 and visit I pcaristorante:com to see a complete menu, ing was in good condition when he bought it, but it needed cos- metic work; striping floors, painting walls and making the in- terior look old, authentic and Italian. "We're using the vault for spe- cial occasions, anniversaries, birthdays. Whatever reason someone wotild have a special need for it. A lot of people enjoy being in there," he said. The bank's original pressed-tin ceiling remains in place and has been given a copper and bronze patina. "We Tuscan-f'mished the walls and have Roman brick around the vault," Jones said about the restaurant with seating for 50. Jones said although he doesn't have a restaurant background, his mother's side of the family worked in food service. "The restaurant is dedicated to my great-grandfather, Luca Rao. I proudly display his picture on the wall with my great-grand- mother, Carmella. My Italian heritage is near and dear to me," Jones said. He said Luca will prove there's more to Italian food than spaghetti, meatballs and lasagna. "What you would get in Italy is what we're serving here," he said. Jones and chef Joe Churchman collaborated to come up with Lu- ca's menu. Churchman said he enjoys preparing duck and quail dishes as an alternative to everyday chicken. "The pastas are also good. Everything's roiled out in-house using flour from Italy" he said. Churchman grew up in Re- hoboth Beach where, through the years, he gained experience working in several restaurants. He has also worked in a number of Philadelphia restaurants. Churchman said he defines Luca as being near free dining. "This isn't a suit-and-tie restau- rant. It's more upscale, casual dining," he said. Jones said beginning from the top of the menu, foods are lightly flavored. "You can work your way down through the main courses and actually enjoy the desserts," he said. The menu changes as different vegetables become available sea- sonally. "Right now we're using butternut squash because it's in. We're doing a butternut squash ravioli and butternut squash piz- za," he said. All meats and cheeses in the antipasto are from Italy; and roasted peppers are prepared in- house. "The polpettes are meatballs we make in-house using all the prime, leftover scrap from our meats, which we grind. Our gnocchetti, a potato dumpling, we also make in- house," Jones said. Luca's dishes represent of all HENRY J. EVANS JR. PHOTO LUCA OWNER DAVID JONES, LEFT, AND JOE CHURCHMAN, chef, are offer- ing authentic Italian food and beverages in downtown Millsboro. The custom-made bar is poured-in-place concrete with a special finish. Italy's regions. "We go north to scallops in saffron-infused olio south and everything in be- siciliano and parsnip puree, is tween," Jones said. He said duck $13. confitti is a northern dish and There are also grilled local has become a customer favorite, vegetables, ravioli with ricotta, The menu includes the follow- butternut squash and brown but- ing items: ter sage sauce; and mozzarella Polpettes, pork meatballs and stuffed prosciutto with fennel, olives, with a red tomat6 sauce . arugula, oil-cured black olives, and drizzle of olive oil - are $9, balsamic reduction and Sicilian Antipasto, cured meats, re- olive oil drizzle. gional Italian cheeses, roasted Main courses include braised peppers, pickled onions and pep- duck ragu over handmade fazzo- peroncini-is$13, letti pasta and pecorin0 Cosciotto di duck, confit duck abruzzese $19; chargriUed rose- leg and mushroom risotto in a mary marinated lamb chops with Parmesan broth, is $23. polenta cakes and grilled root Capesante Scottate, seared Continued on page 49 ello! I'm Mr. Deli- cious. My family name is in Latin and hard to pronounce, so pretty much everybody just calls me a big pig. And that's music to my little pointy ears. I live on Route 9 at Salt Air Farm & Table near Lewes. Now, before you start going all "Babe" on me - it's just a movie, for goodness sakes! - I'll tell you right offthat I know why I'm here and that I'm free with it. Generation after genera- tion of my relatives have been carefully bred to make your din- ner as tasty and nourishing as possible. But a lot Can happen between the farm and the table. Speaking of relatives, we do have meetings, and the latest talk around the pen is all the buzz over farm to table. We no- rice more than you think we do, and it seems that some humans play fast and loose with the idea. If some chef buys a sack of rutabagas from a guy out on Route 24, is his cuisine now farm to table? After all, most meats, fruits and vegetables start out on a farm - sordewhere. I've got the family photos to prove it. My humans, Jonathan Spivak and Nino Mancari, seem to be taking this concept very serious- In fact, that's why I'm here. They've invested big bucks in farmland and livestock (that's me!), and they're renovating some place in Rehoboth called, Salt Air so they can bring lots of stuff- from spices to meats and everything in between - from their farm to your table. They think I'm not listening, but I overhear them talking, and ap- parently not all of my brothers and sisters are treated as well as Iam. When Nino buys one of us from a typical food purveyor, we're already all butchered and packaged. Remember, I'm OK with this, so relax. He has little control over how we were raised, and by the time we're trimmed, packaged, stored and transported in big trucks from who knows where, we can end up being pretty expensive. I may be just a humble porker, but even I know that those costs have to factor into the price of what he serves at the rest iurant. Furthermore, my associates who are raised in gigantic com- mercial facilities are sometimes fed antibiotics and feeds that are hard for them to digest. Yuck! I've even heard rumors of crowded pens and not-very-hu- mane treatment. Gadzooks! The bottom line is that diners can end up with mediocre but very expensive meat on their plates. That doesn't make me very happy, as I'd really rather be the best that I can be. Here at Salt Air Farm & Table, I get to scamper around (well, as much as something that weighs 200 pounds can scamper), and when the time does come, I'm treated humanely and prepared under tight controls by local hu- mans. And here comes the best part, Instead of your yummy leftovers spoiling in the restau- rant's Dumpster, selected food scraps and trimmings become part of my mealtime goodies. Next time you order shrimp and grits, leave some for me, will ya? My Lewes home will be used to market other products, too. Spices, dips, sauces, marinades, desserts and baked goods for the restaurant will be prepared and sold here. We pigs are very social, and we love the big humans who vis- it for the family-style dinners, not to mention the little ones in the cooking classes who come out to pet me. As much as I can figure, my humans want you to associate Salt Air with sustainability hu- mane treatment of animals and a clear trail from the farm to the kitchen. And I'm happy to be a part of it. Do me one favor, though: The next time you eat there, don't overlook the beef, lamb and chicken dishes. I don't mind being the other white AMBER WlTHROW PHOTO KELLER MANCARI, a tiny human, rolls out pizza dough in class. "1 hope it's a vegetarian pizza" mumbles Mr. Delicious as he watches the process -with interest. meat, but a few more days in this cushy pen would be nice. Bob Yesbek isa notorious foodie and can be reached at