Neighborhood Italian dining in Alexandria has never been so good. Welcome to a la lucia.
The intimate restaurant seats a maximum of 40 people but reservations are not required…at least not yet.
“We are really a neighborhood restaurant and want the people in this neighborhood to be able to just drop in,” said owner Michael Nayeri. “We are informal and if you come early on any evening, there’s not a problem. Prime time on the weekend may mean a wait and we will take reservations, but we are informal here and want people to come and get to know us.”
A la lucia, 315 Madison Street, opened on December 23, 2003, for dinner and lunch. The menu is southern Italian. “That means lots of fresh ingredients,” Nayeri said. “Fresh vegetables, fresh fish, bread that we make here and fresh desserts. Southern Italian cuisine is light and well spiced with a lot of grilled meats and fish.”
Nayeri designed the menu and Angelo Rodriguez is the chef. “I’ve been working at Italian restaurants so long that they have adopted me,” said Nayeri, a native of Iran. “I might as well be Italian.”
THE FOOD IS light, aromatic and diverse. Rock fish, lightly broiled and served on a bed of broccoleti is complimented by a sauce of red and yellow peppers. Crab cakes are served on a red pepper sauce with sweet potato curls. The veal scaloppini, cooked in Madeira wine and topped with shitake mushrooms, melts in one’s mouth. And the pasta is a treat as well, either in white sauce or light, spicy red sauce with sausage and peppers or seafood.
The décor is as simple as the food. Nayeri’s wife, Joan, known as Lucia, designed the interior. “She wanted people to be comfortable while they enjoy the food,” Nayeri said.
A la lucia plans to have outdoor seating this spring and summer.