Tuesday’s opening of Lucia in West Village marks the first foray in Durham for Urban Food Group, the restaurant group that owns Vivace, Coquette and Chow in Raleigh.
According to owner Kevin Jennings, the new concept is inspired by the success of the Italian restaurant Vivace, which also has a location in Charlotte. But Lucia will be a more casual restaurant with a greater emphasis on small plates in keeping with the current trend for sharing.
On chef Matt Greiner’s inaugural menu, that translates to an extensive selection of antipasti that includes tuna crudo with jalapeño agrodolce, arancini filled with ’nduja (a spicy Italian pork sausage), and burrata with pistachio genovese and a drizzle of 12-year-old balsamic vinegar. Greiner, who comes to Lucia from Vivace, devotes smaller — but still temptingly varied — sections of the menu to pasta dishes (risotto with scallops, sweet peas and summer squash; pappardelle with wild boar ragu; potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms, marsala-rosemary sugo, and fried Tuscan kale), entrees (pork belly-wrapped pork roast; osso buco milanese; a daily changing whole fish preparation) and Neapolitan style pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven.
The owners have given the former Pop’s space a makeover with an inviting casual cosmopolitan look. A newly built bar offers craft cocktails (barrel-aged Negroni, anyone?), draft beers (including rotating selections on nitro), and an exclusively Italian list of over 350 wines stored in temperature-controlled wine cabinets. The patio is getting revamped, too, with new furnishings including planters that will supply the kitchen with some of its ingredients.
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For the first couple of weeks or so, Lucia (605-A W. Main St., Durham; 984-219-1965; luciadurham.com) will be open for dinner only. Then the restaurant will ramp up to its full schedule: Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also covers restaurant news. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.