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Luka's Italian: Right in the Neighborhood

LukaDiningRoomIt seems as though Westchester County can never have its fill of Italian restaurants. They range from casual pizza spots to formal white tablecloth venues. A new and more formal opening is Luka's Italian Cuisine at the former location of the long time and very popular Ernesto's. The space has be completely redecorated. Steps away from the northern border of Scarsdale, with an adjacent parking lot, it is a convenient new Italian dining spot for diners from Scarsdale and other surrounding communities.

Luka's is owned by Luka Brucaj, a veteran restauranteur. His roots are in Montenegro, where his family had a market. When he arrived here in the early 1990's, he worked in the hospitality business at Coco Pazzo and Michael Jordan's Steakhouse in Manhattan. For many years after that, he worked at the popular, Tre Angelina, in White Plains with his brother. When the space on West Post Road became available, Luka thought it was a perfect spot for him to open his own establishment, and Luka's Italian Cuisine was born. As you enter the restaurant, there's a 100 seat party room is to your left, formally decorated with several sparkling crystal chandeliers, an oversized TV screen, and linen clad tables, making it a perfect party venue. A comfortable bar separates it from the 60 seat dining room. White linen cloths, and a single red rose in a bud vase, set the mood for your lunch or dinner. The ecru and white walls and large arch shaped windows overlook Post Road, and scenic gold framed landscapes grace the walls. On my recent visit the sun gave the room a nice glow. A wine cellar dining room is in the process of being created downstairs, providing another dining venue in the company of a large selection of international wines.

Owner Brucaj believes, "We must value our guests and treat them well with elegant service and fine food. Our menu is mostly traditional with creative touches. Everybody is welcome at our door. We accept reservations, but if people arrive without one, we try to accommodate them as they have a drink at the bar. I enjoy all areas of my work." It is obvious that Brucaj enjoys chatting with his guests. The wait staff is professional and attentive. Brucaj indicated that," We are very accommodating, and if the ingredients are available, we will suit our dishes to your taste."

Heading the kitchen is Chef Roger Bruci who worked with Brucaj for many years. With more than a dozen antipasti choices, it was difficult to decide on our starters. Clams casino, clams oreganata, fried calamari, mozzarella carrozza were some popular choices. Hot or cold antipasti for 2, give you the opportunity to sample several dishes. With seafood on my mind, I decided upon dishes based on clams, shrimp and mussels. Clams and shrimp posillipo was a wonderful combination of plump little neck clams arranged on a large platter with shrimp, enrobed in a sauce of fresh plum tomatoes and a fragrant combination of garlic, herbs and spices. This generous starter was just lovely. Our house made rustic bread was great for mopping up every last drop of the sauce. Mussels Blanco was a nice choice, as well. Here again a large platter arrived filled with fresh as could be steamed open mussels cooked in an herb infused white wine sauce and tossed with cannellini beans and a scattering of fresh zucchini half moons. These dishes were a nice introduction to the kitchen at Luka's.

Several of the pastas here are house made. The Gnocchi SicilianoLukasRavioli was rich and divine. The gnocchi was tossed with cubed eggplant, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Topped with a dollop of ricotta cheese, it was a filling and tasty pasta choice. The house made cavatelli primavera was mixed with zucchini, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli for a colorful dish. A light sauce brought out the garden fresh flavors. We look I look forward to sampling the house made fettuccine Bolognese, lobster ravioli in lobster sauce, bowties with chunks of salmon, sun dried tomatoes and peas in a pink sauce as well as the popular penne alla vodka or linguine alla vongole.

Classic soups of escarole and beans, minestrone, pasta fagioli and stracciatella ala romana are tempting starters, as I think of the snow falling out my window, as I write. To be optimistic, spring will arrive soon and one of the salads at Luka's would just hit the spot.

Risottos, chicken, meat fish and grilled dishes are offered as main courses. From the fish selections, shrimp, filet of sole, swordfish and lobster tail and sea bass await your tasting. We decided upon salmone alla mostardo. Here, the cream enhanced Dijon mustard sauce added flavor to the salmon which was cooked as requested, on the rare side. Sharing the plate were some al dente cooked cauliflower florets, carrot matchsticks and roasted potatoes. The dish was delicious in its lukas Fishsimplicity, and proved that starting with quality ingredients is important. Among the chicken and veal entrees the classics were all represented from veal piccata, Milanese and marsala to chicken scarpariello and martini. We tried Vitello Sorrentino. The scallopine of veal was layered with prosciutto, eggplant and mozzarella, a pleasing combination. Future visits may include a grilled dish, perhaps rib eye steak with polenta or pork chop topped with cherry peppers in a light balsamic sauce.

Desserts range from assorted sorbets, profiteroles, tiramisu and raspberry linzer torte. We opted for the chocolate soufflé, crisp on the outside and creamy within. It shared the plate with whipped cream, a sprig of fresh mint and a crunchy caramel ornament. The desserts are all prepared in house.
Luka's offers a varied lunch menu, as well. Many of the dinner choices are available at lunch, as well. Each day, the waiter will recite the daily specials, as well. The most difficult part of having a leisurely lunch at Luka's will be going back to work.

Welcome our new neighbor by paying a visit to Luka's Italian Cuisine, where traditional Italian dishes and a warm friendly atmosphere await you.

Luka's Italian CuisineLukas Dessert
130 West Post Road
White Plains, NY

914 607 3535

Veal Chop Milanese (serves 1)

For The Veal
1 Double Cut Veal Chop On The Bone
1 Egg, Well Beaten
½ Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
For The Salad
1 Cup Arugula, Stems Trimmed
1 Tomato, In Half Inch Cubes
¼ Red Onion, Chopped
¼ cup olive oil mixed with 2 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
½ Avocado, sliced or diced
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine tomato and red onion with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Toss together and let it marinate. In another bowl, place the arugula. Toss the marinated vegetables with the arugula and the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Top with avocado and serve with the veal chop, either next to or on top of. Reserve extra salad for another dish.

Heat 2 Tbsps. oil in skillet. Pound veal thinly and dip in egg, and crumbs, so the coating adheres to the veal well. Pan fry to desired doneness. Remove from pan and serve with salad.

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