“We are not affiliated with Antico,” the girl behind the counter tells the two customers ahead of us. She must get that question a lot. Tonight we visit the entirely-new, barn-like, Antico-clone restaurant known as Pizzeria Lucca. (Oh, my–Date Night has just set a record for hyphens in a sentence!) Hey, Antico works in midtown. Will the carbon copy work in Roswell? (Yes, we know there is an Antico in Avalon, but it takes an act of Congress to get us to Alpharetta on a Friday night.)
The brainchild of Vic and Diana Bernardini, Lucca is located next to The Mill in Roswell. It still smells like a new building when you walk in. Our first impression is that the Bernardinis should have fired their restaurant designer/architect. The parking lot is miniscule. Expect to have to park on the street on Bulloch Avenue. Practice your parallel parking skills before you go. Bad design flaw #1.
When we walked in, we encountered a line. Good news for Lucca. Bad news for the customers in line.
As soon as the line forms, nobody can get in and nobody can get out. There’s no place to go to stand in line. Although the line isn’t that long, there are people waiting outside who can’t get in the building. Bad design flaw #2.
The menu is on a blackboard, or you can get the printed version. You can order one of their creations, or make your own. You can’t do that at Antico.
Tip: if you want dessert, it’s best to order it now.
If you come back for it later, you may have to wait in a line all over again. Our guess is that they lose a lot of dessert business, like ours. We had fro-yo down the street after our pizza.
The beer is all bottled. No taps for us tonight. The wine is expensive ($11 a glass!) and is poured into plastic cups.
We do find a beer of interest from Northern Italy that has not previously passed our palates. Menabrea tastes like a good German lager, and at 4.5% ABV, you can drink this stuff all day. Not us…we only have one each.
It’s tough choosing a pizza. There are two sizes, individual and large, which they say will serve at least two people. Go for the large. It’s a better value. Whatever pie you pick, it comes out of one of these three behemoths.
Those are gen-u-ine I-talian wood-fired pizza ovens imported from Naples. (The hyphens are getting out of control!) Remind anyone of Antico? They get really hot, and pizzas cook quickly.
Owner Vic doesn’t just oversee the place. He tosses the pizza dough.
Date Night loves to see owner involvement.
Although they are busy, the pizza comes out fairly fast.
Behold, the fig bianco. It’s a white pizza with fig preserves, mozzarella, pecorino and ricotta.
The preserves make this a sweet pizza. The crust is soft and chewy. I really like the way the cheese tastes with the fig preserves. However, Neapolitan pies should be crispy on the bottom and this one was not. My date prefers a more savory pie and feels like this one is too sweet. Next time, she gets to pick the pizza.
Halfway through our pizza, the fatal design flaw of Pizzeria Lucca is exposed. It is so loud that we can no longer talk to each other across the picnic table because we can’t hear. A friend stops at the table and we can barely hear him. The floor is concrete, the picnic tables are hard wood, the pizza ovens are brick, and there’s a lot of glass in the building. Every surface amplifies sound until the volume actually gets uncomfortable. They paid someone to design this? Design flaw #3 is huge. All we can think of is, “we gotta get out of here.”
The bottom line on Pizzeria Lucca: This is not the place you want to go for a quiet date. The families of Roswell come, so expect a lot of kids running around. You will experience a lot of noise. If you want quiet, sit outside or get it to go. Our pizza was $21, which makes it more expensive (and unfortunately not as good) than you-know-where. We can only hope that the Bernardinis will buy some sound-proofing with their profits.