Luciano’s on the Marina Pier hasn’t been around for very long at all and yet in a short time it has already been making waves in the dining world. In an amazing location, with stunning views and décor, and of course sensational food. Luciano’s looks to pick up from where Esca’s left off and be the premier restaurant of the bay.
In the previous space of the award-winning restaurant Esca’s, the people at Luciano’s have decided to enlist the advice of the old guard to find out how to run a successful restaurant on the Marina. In steps Adam Swanson, founding owner and Executive Chef of Esca and now renowned Australian celebrity chef with multiple ventures in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Adam has 20 years of experience and was happy to impart what he could on the new Luciano’s.
In conjunction with head chef, Loris Facciolo, Adam has put together an all-out 5-star menu to continue the tradition of incredible food on the Marina Pier. Luciano’s invited AFC to try out the newly crafted menu and I’m convinced they tried to murder us with great food as they served us just about every dish on their menu. So, prepare yourself for a detailed culinary journey on everything the new Luciano’s has to offer.
First up is your Antipasti. For most Italian places you would think of Arancini, plates of deli meats and such but even in your stating dishes Luciano’s aims to be a difference maker. Salumi Plate with Prosciutto, Finocchiona, Capocollo and Mortadella. Vitello Tonnato with Veal, Tuna, Anchovies, Caper Aioli and Bottarga. Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes, Starcciatella, Basil and Frisella. Calamari Fritti with Fried SA Squid, Zucchini, Parsley Aioli and Lemon. Arancini with Saffron, Ragu, Mozzarella and Napoli Sugo. As you can see, right from the get-go, Luciano’s is gun’s blazing. These are your typical antipasti dishes but with distinctive changes here and there to make it memorable. From the Arancini with Saffron Rice and Ragu filling that gives it an aroma and flavour that is striking from the first bite to the Vitello Tonnato which is light and fresh, giving that clean flavour with a slight tang from the Caper Aioli. Slight differences here and there mean that each dish is distinct and delicious in its own ways.
Next up on the revolving door of food was the pasta and pizza dishes. Iconic Italian dishes made new with ingenious recipes. On display was the Mezzi Rigatoni alla Carbonara with Guanciale, Egg, Pecorino and Pepper. House Made Gnocchetti with SA Crab Meat, Tomato, Chilli and Mascarpone. Linguine with Port Lincoln Vongole, Garlic, Parsley and Olive Oil. Risotto with Zucchini Flowers and Saffron. The pasta dishes as a whole demonstrated Luciano’s dedication to authenticity. From a proper Carbonara with no cream but instead is evenly coated in decadent melted Pecorino cheese to give it that burst of cheesy goodness with every mouthful to the authentic homemade Gnocchetti that illustrates Luciano’s combination of original Italian ingredients while sourcing fresh Australian produce. Alongside the pastas were the pizzas. Affumicata Pizza with Smoked Taleggio, Double Smoked Ham and Double Smoked Puree. Prosciutto Rucola e Grana with San Marzano, Fior Di Latte, Prosciutto, Rocket and Parmesan. Gamberi with San Marzano, Fior Di Latte, SA Prawns, Asparagus and Chilli. The dough of a pizza is normally an afterthought to loading as many toppings on the base as you can and while Luciano’s doesn’t skimp on the toppings there is a careful consideration taken with the quality of their dough. Allowed to sit for 3 to 4 days, this pizza dough has a lightness and flavour to it that complements the array of garnishes on top. Having a good mix of common and uncommon pizza topping allows you to zone in on your favourite pizza while maybe finding something new to fall in love with. All in all, Luciano’s has come out with flying colours on the expected Italian favourites. Displaying a commitment to authentic Italian methods while delivering in deliciousness.
We’ve already been through quite a lot and I’m sure you’re feeling quite overwhelmed. Go on, take a moment to catch your breath. Okay that’s long enough. Italians don’t let up when it comes to food. On to Secondi. Twice Cooked Pork Belly with Asparagus, Green Apple and Mustard. Barramundi Parcel with Fennel Puree, Cherry Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Basil Butter. Veal Cotoletta – Milanese Cotoletta Style – Crumbed Veal with Rocket Pesto and Homemade Meat Sauce. These were served along with the customary Insalata & Greens. Twice Cooked Patale Novelle with Rosemary, Confit Garlic and Sea Salt. Broccolini with Nduja Butter and Pangrattato. Wood Roasted Beetroot with Treviso Radicchio, Ricotta Salata and White Balsamic. Fennel with Orange, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Olive Oil. These are the big guns. The dishes that establish the depth and talent of the chefs working at Luciano’s. It’s one thing to put a menu together but it’s the hard work of the staff that are able to put together a wide variety of food and get it all right. I’m not usually a Veal person but the Veal Cotoletta is the softest veal I’ve come across with a crisp crumbing and sauce it’s an easy contender for my favourite dish of the night. The Barramundi and Pork Belly highlight Luciano’s ability to adopt different cooking techniques to achieve perfection each and every time. Each dish is exciting and special, turning a normal dinner into a experience. The Insalata doesn’t slack of either with the salads being crunchy and fresh. A true exhibition on ingredients and flavours.
So surely, you’ve had enough by now. Too bad, here’s dessert. Cannoli with Cows Ricotta, Lemon and Orange Zest. Tiramisu with Savoiardi, Mascarpone and Coffee. White Chocolate Pannacotta with Raspberries and Pistachio’s. Formaggio Plate with a selection of Local and Italian Cheeses and Condiments. After the onslaught of food we’ve just experienced these are your resting dishes. Nothing in this selection is too big but instead a sweet snack to end the meal. The cherry on top if you will. The Pannacotta especially helps finish all of this on a real high note. Cannoli and Tiramisu are generally acquired tastes, but I can attest that like everything else it is expertly made and more importantly, well portioned.
Well there you have it. That is everything. The whole kit and caboodle. If at least one of those dishes piqued your interest than Luciano’s is worth a visit. The restaurant is relatively young, and Adam Swanson and company are looking to take off running. With this in mind expect amazing service, charming décor and of course, out of this world food.
Words by Jonathon Tonkin
WHERE: Shop 13-15, Marina Pier, Holdfast Shores Marina, Glenelg