Tastes of Tuscany

Tastes of Tuscany

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Lucca at Boca Raton Resort & Club

By Steve Pike

Adam Pile is living proof that you don’t have to be Italian to know how to create outstanding Italian dishes.

Fortunately Pile, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Academy of Culinary Arts, is a fast study. So much so, that for the past seven years he’s been executive chef at Lucca, the great Italian restaurant at Boca Raton Resort & Club.  

“When I first got here to Lucca, it was a big learning curve,’’ said Pile, who has held various culinary positions over his 14 years at the famed resort, including Sous Chef at 501 and Sous Chef at Lucca. “I really hit the books and learned about (Italian cuisine) culture and originality. I learned about each region in Italy and their different cooking styles. A lot of the history of Italian food is ‘peasant’ food that now is breaking edge cuisine. To me, that’s fascinating.’’ All of that learning and talent pays off in big ways at Lucca, one of more than eight restaurants and lounges open to Boca Raton Resort & Club members and resort guests.

Lucca offers classic Tuscan cuisine in a setting that includes hand-blown Murano chandeliers and an open-arched kitchen. The service is first class, but one expects nothing less from the resort, a Waldorf Astoria property that has been one of South Florida’s more storied addresses for decades.

Where to begin? Start with the Ragu E Polenta that’s slowly cooked in Lucca’s wood oven and served for sharing. “Simple Italian comfort food that makes you feel good,’’ Pile said.

Don’t miss the antipasti cart that goes table to table serving an ever-changing variety of prosciutto hams and cheeses. The truffle cheese, by the way, is a must have off the cart. “It’s kind of interactive and the guests love it,’’ said Pile.

The Mediterranean Octopus is another great choice off the antipasti menu, as are the Meatballs Al Forno. A must have entrée? No doubt the Bistecca (Creekstone Farms black angus NY strip, bone marrow butter, aged balsamic and parmigiano-sage potatoes). The steak is perfectly prepared and the butter adds to the flavor.

Equally as outstanding is the Cotoletta Di Vitello Alla Parmigiana, which features a 14-ounce veal chop, melted scamorza and fontina cheeses, pomodoro and basil. The breaded, bone-in veal chop is pounded out to nearly the size of the plate.

Of course, Lucca has several pasta dishes on its menu. If you have trouble selecting, go with the Lobster Scampi with linguine, marinated cherry tomatoes, lemon, basil, and calabrian chile. They’re a great combination of flavors.

“We’re making nearly 90 percent of our pasta in-house,’’ Pile said. “By [winter] season, it should be 100 percent.’’ Pile is currently prepping Lucca’s menu for the winter season. “I’m always looking for new ideas to bring to the restaurant,’’ he said. “That’s part of being a good chef, you’re constantly evolving.’’