Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Restaurant Review - La Luce, Chicago, Illinois

Have you been to Al Capone's grave site at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois? I have and so have lots of other goofy people that want to see his grave marker.  People leave change all the time. As I said, goofy people.

His life and career (if you will) have had a long shadow on the history of Chicago. Back in the mid 1980's, while travelling in Great Britain and Ireland I had most people look at me (after I told them I was from Chicago) and do the machine gun whirl scattering left to right. Legacies of the old gangsters live on. This same experience happened in Spain, Italy, Israel, Singapore and several other places I've been to during my slightly let's go, let's go younger phase.

I love historic Chicago. La Luce is housed in a building that was erected in 1892. 1892! I love the building! It reminds me of the building my maternal grandmother lived in. Those old back porches that lifted their way into the air on the back side of the house still get me to wax sentimental.

There is a great deal of history in this location. Real history and cinematic history. Recognize that window? The ambiance of the big dining room is one looming artifact after another from another generation. When you have to go to the restroom you must walk down an old flight of stairs (not handicap friendly, but there is another restroom in the building, but that's not easily accessible).  While walking down the stairwell it dawned on me that this must have led to some speakeasy from the 1920's. Was Capone here? Did Dillinger pick up any women in the venue? Who sang here? Who gambled here? Who made moonshine here? It's a historic location.

I love this place. The bar has the old coolers. Now that is not a sight one sees too often. Chicago and Then Some received a backstage tour and they didn't know we were from Chicago and Then Some, so there was no preferential treatment given. We had an 89 year old with us and she talked about all of these things as if she knew the lawless ones (she didn't) and they offered up the tour.  Of course, we took it.

The bars are downright monumental and you will jump up and use the expression - "they don't make them like that anymore."

Getting to the food.  It's good.  Admittedly, I wasn't overwhelmed with any tastes of brilliance on the plate, but it was good.  The marinara sauce was a tad sour, but the tomato and basil sauce was quite good. Lots and lots of grape tomatoes filled my plate and I love tomatoes, so this worked.  There had to be 30 grape tomatoes and lots of basil!

The chicken parmigiana is served with two huge breasts of chicken and according to one of my dining partners it was absolutely fantastic.  It must have been, since he scarfed it down quite quickly. It was as if he were going to be on the run from one of the old hoodlums!  The lasagna is large and the whitefish is pleasant (nice side portion of steamed veggies).

I would highly recommend La Luce as an experience.  It is a unique and historical location. The food is good, but not great.

Wonderful for big groups, mid-sized groups and intimate two party dinners. Full bar and a private parking lot, so you don't have to spend a dime on parking in this dining night out.

La Luce
1393 W. Lake Street Street (West Loop)
Chicago, Illinois
312 850 1900


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