Lucia Bar Italiano

Bites of the Bull City

special to the Clarion Content

by: Amber Watson


A new Italian restaurant is about to open in downtown Durham that will fill the void (both literally and figuratively) left by Pop’s Trattoria.


Lucia Bar Italiano

Lucia – Bar Italiano will be a new restaurant under the umbrella of Urban Food Group, which currently owns and operates four restaurants with two additional locations in development. (Durham is one, a second Lucia is also underway in Denver, CO.) Their current restaurants will ring a bell with Triangle residents: Vivace, with locations in Raleigh and Charlotte, as well as a pizza burger bar called Chow in north Raleigh, and a French Brasserie in North Hills named Coquette.

Lucia pasta


Lucia is their first foray into Durham and will be a new look for Urban Food Group—an Italian restaurant trying to be very authentically Italian, while also conforming to a U.S. location, “We have been very successful in Raleigh and Charlotte with our original look at this concept: Vivace,” explains owner Kevin Jennings, “Individual-sized pizzas, pasta, secondi (main course) items, and antipasti make up the menu. The concept is serious when it comes to food and wine, but approachable as it relates to service and atmosphere.” The menu redesign at Lucia will offer a larger antipasti section, nodding to the current trend in full-service of patrons eating smaller plates and sharing. The structure of the antipasti, prime, pizza, and secondi will be along the lines of the Vivace locations.



Those familiar with Pop’s nearly twenty year run will remember its Durham warehouse charm1, with high, open wood ceilings, exposed brick walls, and concrete floors. Still, many changes have been made to the interior of the 605 West Main Street location. “A new bar has been constructed in a new location; the kitchen opened even more; all seating has been replaced (leather booths made in North Carolina), the secondary room has been made more of a private event space with a mounted projector and drop down screen, the bathrooms have been renovated, and the entire place painted. We have also installed three temperature controlled wine cabinets housing our 350 all-Italian wine list. We are in the process of converting a huge planter joining an improved patio area (new furniture, tables, and planters) into our own garden to serve the restaurant!” -Jennings shared.


new restaurants in Durham
restaurants with event space in Durham

Nearly everything in all of Urban Food Group’s restaurants is handmade, and it will be no different at Lucia. “We make our own breads, pastas, sauces, etc.” Jennings says. “We have a gravity slicer for our charcuterie program, an extruder for our pastas, a gelato machine to help us produce our well known gelato selection, and a wood-fired chargrill pizza oven to help us produce the best tasting meats and pizzas. We get in whole local fish whenever possible, allowing us to use the animal to the fullest extent. We have paired with Blue Sky Produce, a local organically rated produce purveyor to allow us to customize our own lettuce mix, get locally foraged mushrooms, and keep our ever-changing menu very seasonal.”

They will also offer gluten free pasta and pizza dough and a separate menu for gluten free or vegetarian/pescatarian guests.



Lucia will be upscale, but not stuffy. It promises to have a well-thought-out menu for children toonot the standard chicken fingers and spaghetti, but rather to cater to the trend of healthy options for kids. But of course, kids still get gelato! 
Lucia Durham restaurant

More often, Lucia will be filled with young professionals, business clients, couples on a date, and locals who appreciate locally sourced foods. Expect Lucia to be social and fun, while also offering a few quieter dining options. Complimentary valet parking will be offered nightly. 

Lucia opens doors at 605 W. Main Street on Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

Photos courtesy of Lucia

Editor’s Note
1Both locations.

Amber Watson

Amber Watson is the creator of the Durham-based food blog and website, Bites of Bull City, which is the perfect outlet for her background as a writer and her passion as a local foodie. Bites of Bull City is a place where area residents and visitors can go to get insider food news and keep up with Durham's exciting and ever-expanding food scene.

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