Restaurant review: Lucca, Princes Avenue, Hull, a worthy successor to Pier Luigi
IT is hard to believe now but not so long ago finding a good restaurant on Princes Avenue was a tough job.
When I arrived on the shores of Hull 12 years ago there was some grim Mexican, a lot of takeaways and, of course, Pier Luigi.
Like many long-lasting eateries, Pier Luigi’s fortunes wavered over the years – personally I ate both well and extremely poorly there.
By the time it closed, however, there can be no doubt it had been overtaken by the newer, slicker restaurants that had opened on a street that had, at first surprisingly, become one of the night-time destinations of the city.
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Lucca, the new Italian that has opened in its place, therefore has both a heritage to live up to - and a venue with a mixed reputation to overcome.
The revamp has made the place almost unrecognisable. Where once was wood and hand-painted murals is now slick glass and fancy design. It has to be said it is a vast improvement.
Upstairs is a champagne bar and function room, but after a quick visit to the cocktail bar – which has been cleverly delineated from the restaurant by a thick glass door – we head to the restaurant.
The menu is large enough but not overwhelming, with plenty to choose from in the pasta, pizza and risotto sections.
Dishes include fresh crabmeat tortellini, slightly more innovative than many Italian restaurants, but it is to the other mains we head, eager to test the kitchen’s finesse.
I opt for the gamberonni picante (£7.45) – or spicy prawns – which come with a cucumber, red onion and sweet pepper salad for a starter, while my dining partner chooses the seared scallops with Parma ham, asparagus and madeira sauce (£8.25).
We are both impressed with our choices – the Madeira sauce is beautifully reduced, while the prawns are tasty but light – and look forward to the main attraction.
After much deliberation, I choose the monkfish, which comes wrapped in Parma ham and is served with wilted spinach with potato and anchovy cream (£16.95). I also order a side salad and although there is far too much food to finish, I relish every mouthful.
My indecisive dining partner asks for guidance from the waiter, who recommends the herb-crusted rack of lamb (£17.45), which comes with baby new potatoes, confit shallots, glazed carrots, roasted red onion and redcurrant jelly sauce.
It is polished off with much lip-smacking pleasure.
A dessert each – pear tart for me, cheesecake for my partner – and a couple of coffees finish off a meal that has been accompanied by great service.
Unwilling to end the night, we head once more into the bar for yet more cocktails as, it would appear, do a number of other tables.
The bill when it comes is a pleasant surprise at just under £110.
Pleasantly full, and suitable refreshed from our cocktails, we head off into the night – memories of Pier Luigi all but erased.
Lucca Bar and Kitchen, 84 Princes Avenue, Hull. Call: 01482 470088.