Leuca- Love at First Bite

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  • scene: Simultaneously light and cozy, with the smells from the wood burning oven filling the room
  • sip: Cocktails and beers and wine oh my!
  • savor: Whipped ricotta; burrata pasta, chicken for two
  • sit: Date-worthy; with a small group for a lovely night out; with your parents to show them Brooklyn isn't so bad
  • spend: $$$
  • address: William Vale Hotel, 11 North 12th Street (BROOKLYN)
  • phone number: (718) 581-5900
  • website: www.leuca.com

“Hey, honey, let’s go to a super-trendy hot spot in Brooklyn for a drink at the bar where we need a reservation and then to the new restaurant in the hotel,” is not usually the way to get my husband out of the house. “Andrew Carmelllini is the chef and there is a chicken on the menu,” however, works like a charm.

The William Vale is the hottest thing to hit Williamsburg since flannel, and with good reason: the rooftop bar, Westlight, offers unparalleled 360 degree views, craft cocktails and satisfying bar bites. There is a pool, a seasonal burger truck, and now a rocking restaurant, making it a one stop shop for a fun night out. My recommendation is to anchor your evening at Leuca, with a stop at Westlight before or after. Plan ahead- even though outdoor service has ceased at Westlight, it is still quite busy and there is a bit of a crowd control situation in the lobby, so just call and make a reservation for your desired time.  (If you are like me, I say go before dinner, because, um, oldness.)

Anyway, Leuca (is not on the second floor, I told you I was old, ha ha ha) but actually down a staircase from street level. The front room, which seems to be for walk-ins, communal dining and maybe some of the all day dining, has a lot of light and bustling energy.  The vibe is more comfy cozy than austere and slick, making the space feel approachable and not overly hip and intimidating.

The dining room also had light wood and large black and white photos of a blonde child on the wall.  The lighting reminds me of a black mobile hanging from the ceiling, and the seating is a mix of cushy booths and tables.  The tableware is painted Italian pottery, which I love, and there is also a large private room, with a full private bar, which is good to know.

Nothing like a spicy little Italian...
Nothing like a spicy little Italian…

It is possible that I developed a small crush on our waitress, and Husband might have as well; she was cool and fun but also efficient and knowledgeable. She didn’t balk when we asked for toasted bread with our ricotta dip, and gave honest suggestions on the menu and the amount that we should order.  The sommelier was similarly lacking pretense, recommending a delightful wine to match our meal and not rape our wallet. There might be something to be said for Brooklyn hospitality, just saying…

Whip (ricotta) Whip it Real Good
Whip (ricotta) Whip it Real Good

We ate:

Whipped ricotta with honey, garlic and fried basil. As mentioned above, this heavenly whipped cloud was best spread on toasted bread, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Shrimp with Herbs and Lardo- I can’t even explain how good this dish is, the firmness of the shrimp and the flavor in the lardo somehow recall a incredible sausage.  This dish is so much more than the some of its parts, and is not to be missed. (Unfortunately I did not a get picture of this, sorry.)

Mezzaluna with Burrata- Pasta filled with burrata, a melty, dish of perfection, and lighter than it sounds.

There is burrata in there...
There is burrata in there…

OG Pizza with pepperoni,  nduja, and fresno chili – Andrew Carmellini is making pizza, what could be bad? Listen, the pizza is not going to change your life one way or the other, but could be a  great starter to share if you are with a big of a group.  Also, I love me some spicy pepperoni, so…

Chicken “Rosalina”  with blistered  peppers- Bird is the word, for sure.  I love Carmellini’s chicken for two at Locanda Verde, and this is a totally different, but equally interesting bird.  There are ground shishito peppers on top, some citrus, and lots of roasted peppers, making a carnival of flavors and colors. Do not miss this dish…

We might have had dessert, I really don’t remember, I was floating in a cloud of fullness and happiness. There is a lot to love at Leuca, and I think the most refreshing thing is the authenticity and care  present in every element- the service, the food and the space. Andrew Carmellini is a master of making simple ingredients sing, and Leuca provides a proper stage for these songs.



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