HVRW: Doris Downes, Guest Blogger, visits Luce in Somers

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It can be difficult to wrestle a houseguest’s desire to spend a Saturday evening out on the town in Manhattan, but with the proper powers of persuasion, I justified our stay in the country. Reason 1, to try the Italian restaurant, Luce, in Somers, knowing that the 20 minute drive north would be quite spectacular on the eve of the vernal equimox.

The reservoirs that dot the landscape are stunning and the ever popular Muscoot Farm, a  Westchester County Park on the approach to Luce is always a welcomed sight.  A second reason- after viewing the dinner menu online, I spotted, be still my heart, Spaghetti Carbonara ‘made the traditional way’.  This dish and I have a long history going back a few decades when I first discovered it on the menu of a cramped restaurant in Sienna, Italy, paired with a barolo wine- it was an instant love connection to which my loyalty will never cease and an easy dish to emulate providing you adhere to the proper ingredients.

We were running 10 minutes late but upon arriving (with a reservation) we were asked to wait at the bar until our table was ready in about, say, 5 minutes, which turned into 25 minutes with a view of the flat screen TV airing the NCAA Wake Forest- Kentucky Basketball game.

While we were eating......

Normally, most restaurants running behind schedule would offer up a comp cocktail, but alas, this was not the case.   Perusing the seating areas, I spotted the main dining room, bustling and well appointed with a centrally located stone fireplace and immediately felt that all would be well in the end.  The hostess approached me and said that it was closed for a private party and that we would be seated in the room by the bar.  Now I would like to make a shout-out to all restaurateurs that if your main and most beautiful dining area is otherwise engaged for a private function, please let your prospective customers know in advance of making the reservation.  Large private parties are sometimes noisy and take up quality service time and wait staff and I would gladly have delayed my dinner by one night for the chance to get the full experience. You know what they say about first impressions.

The bar dining area in Luce

The bar dining area in Luce

We are seated and the specials  are recited by a very amiable waiter. The wine list is formidable and worthy of a sommelier considering the prices and many unknown labels.  On arrival, I noticed a sign stating that Luce was a recipient of Wine Spectator Magazine’s Award of Excellence. We asked our waiter about a particular red and he shrugged his shoulder and said, ‘Yeah, it’s ok’.  He was right. My dinner companion and I both ordered the special beet salad with gorgonzola cheese, always a nice combination.  The dish was an enormous portion and thankfully, I never met a beet I didn’t want to eat so it did not disappoint.  However, the presentation was visually overwhelming as it was served on an oversized red cabbage leaf and the gorgonzola had marinated in the beet juice prior to being served creating a monochromatic splash of day-glo magenta. It was actually delicious.  Next came the main courses.  My guest had Linguine Putanesca and I had Spaghetti Carbonara.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

My pasta dish was not traditional as billed.  A proper carbonara, and its many variations, should at least contain parmesan cheese, whole eggs cooked into the hot pasta, guanciale, pancetta, or bacon and black pepper.  I have had other variations containing fresh seasonal peas, adding a delicious texture and flavor to the experience.  This dish in front of me had cream (I was told this by the waiter), no pepper and small bits of proscuitto which I spent some considerable time fishing for at the bottom of the mound. We ate what we could of our very generous portions.  Both dishes could have benefited with less spaghetti and a bit more attention to the ingredients.  With no room for dessert we were given our bill and sent on our way by our friendly waiter while Kentucky pummeled Wake Forest 90-60.

The 411 on Luce.

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Guest bloggers are encouraged to contribute to Small Bites. To submit an idea, email food editor Liz Johnson at food@lohud.com

6 Comments

  1. This blog had me LOL’ing. I tried Luce a few times and it is hit or miss and it is pricey too. The seafood is pretty good from the specials list but it IS italian and the pasta should not have been the miss here.

  2. Using wording such as “in the country” to describe Somers really has no place in a blog serving people who live in Westchester County. You sound like my parents did 50 years ago when we spent summer vacation in Mahopac. Will we next be having people call Putnam and Dutchess Counties “upstate” like some reporters on TV do?

  3. I took my girlfriend to Luce for her birthday and it was a big bummer. The atmosphere is drab and the hostess acted like she was a robot and couldn’t find our reservation on her list even though there were plenty of open tables. Our waiter was so overly friendly that I thought he was going to join us for dinner at one point. I wanted him to leave us alone and stop interrupting our conversation. Then…………..the wine list. Holy ****!! No wonder they don’t put this online on their site because I almost had a heart attack when I saw the prices. Our pasta dishes were just like the description in this blog. A big mound of spaghetti and not much more. Not worth the high prices.

  4. Luce boasts as being a seafood and pasta house but the seafood is better from my experience in the past. The waiter should have made recommendations if that was your first visit. Too bad you weren’t able to sit in the back room because it is pretty and cozy but if you like italian food Next time try Le Fontaine restaurant.

  5. Nice story- next time head to Manhattan!

    Note to Bill: I work for the town of Somers and our website describes Somers as:
    “The Town’s historic character and its wealth of natural areas lend a rural sensibility that has attracted many to live in the Town”.
    Rural = Country. We like that.

  6. Hahahahahaha Hi Doris, It’s me from Spanish class. You headed in the wrong direction that night!!!!

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