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Luca Ristorante is exceptional: one of Connecticut’s best

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We were thrilled to return to Luca Ristorante in Wilton last night for another truly excellent meal. Owner/manager Sandra Morrone (who also makes the desserts) brings her Italian culinary experience and hospitality to this excellent restaurant. Morrone grew up in the Lazio district of Italy (which includes Rome) and brings with her a number of family recipes which grace the menu. Nestled in a brick building just across from the Wilton Library Luca is one of the finest restaurants in Connecticut.

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The restaurant is elegantly decorated in muted yellows and earth tones. Italian opera plays quietly in the background. Most of the friendly and attentive staff soon recognizes repeat customers. The extensive and imaginative menu includes 9 antipasti ranging from $9 to $16, 3 soups from $9 to $12, and 6 salads from $8 to $16 (that top one includes lobster).

Main courses include 9 pasta dishes from $22 to $28, four seafood dishes from $25 to $32 and seven meat dishes from $23 to $36. This is Wilton’s Restaurant Week, and while there was a special menu, we elected to order from the main selections instead.

While we haven’t had everything on the menu, we have never been disappointed in any way: the food and service are simply superb.

While you are considering the menu, don’t neglect the bread basket which includes both Italian bread and freshly made olive-oil enriched focaccia. Morrone told us they bake the foccacia fresh for both lunch and dinner services.

We started our dinner with Carciofi Modo Nostro, a steamed artichoke with garlic, mint, parsley and Italian dry sausage. It was served in a bed of carrots and broth, and is based on a recipe from Morrone’s grandmother. The choke was removed and the sausage minced into the artichoke heart. This is such a welcome change from the usual hollandaise approach, and much lighter as an appetizer, and incidentally, absolutely delicious. The side plate for discarding the leaves conveniently came with a wet-dry wipe for your hands.

Our other appetizer was the Del Pastore salad, consisting of baby spinach with sliced pears, goat cheese and toasted pistachio nuts with a raspberry vinaigrette. It was refreshing and delicious.

The first of our two entrees was a gorgeous version of veal scallopini, called Scaloppine al Porto. This was several tender slices of breaded veal topped with smoked mozzarella and a roasted sweet pepper puree, and baked with shallots in a port reduction sauce. The veal was indeed tender and with the amazing mixture of flavors in every bite this was an astonishing dish. It was served with mashed potatoes and a piece of zucchini, beautifully fluted.

Just as gorgeous was the Chilean Sea Bass, Spigola alla Siciliana, served pan seared with capers, cherry tomatoes, Gaeta black olives in a chardonnay wine sauce. The fish was tender, moist and flaky and the accompanying sauce and olives absolutely marvelous. It was served with beans and mashed potatoes.

While there are a number of excellent desserts on the menu, tonight’s special was an ice cream bombe, made up of vanilla, chocolate and raspberry, coated in hard chocolate and served with whipped cream and a cherry. We split that one, but it was an excellent end to a fine meal.

We closed with a small glass of white Sambuca, the anise-flavored liqueur, served with three little coffee beans floating in it.

Luca provides some of the finest dining in Connecticut, and we always are happy to return there for another marvelous meal.

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