–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 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 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.
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.
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