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Oct 16, 2006 02:53 PM

Lunetta on Smith

Checked out this place last night and my impression is that this place will end up being a nice addition to the neighborhood. The restaurant was relatively crowded, and I thought the tables were a bit tight. We opted to sit at the kitchen bar, where we had a great view of the chefs doing their thing. We started with a bottle of chianti, but the wine list had a variety of options. For appetizers we tried the mushroom bruschetta and the cauliflower. I thought both small starters were really good, but the mushrooms on the bruschetta were not warm (as I think they were intended to be) because the food sat in the window for a while before the waiter brought it over to us. We had the same problem with the entrees. We ordered the beef dish as well as the musseles. The beef was cooked perfectly, with a nice mushroom accompaniment, though again cold because it sat in the window. I'm not sure why the chefs didn't pass the dishes over to us directly since we were sitting right there. It would have made sense seeing that the place was crowded and the waitstaff was allowing food to linger in the window. I was not crazy about the broth the mussels were in. It tasted vaguely of chicken stock, though the chef assured me they prepared the broth with clam juice. Regardless, I couldn't help but think it tasted a bit like Campbell's soup from the can. The mussels were nice and plump and had the broth been different, they would have be very good.
We ended the meal with a trio of gelato: marscapone, toasted almond & chocolate hazelnut. All very rich and very delicious.
Overall the bill came to about $90 with tip. Not that expensive and I will certainly think of going back. The pastas looked really good coming out. I imagine the staff just needs some time to find their groove.

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  1. We went for a second meal at La Lunetta on Friday night (this time for a proper meal, not just a few apps). Had a wonderful time. It was indeed PACKED. I'm glad to see the new venture getting off to such a good start, as much as it saddens me that I never once saw Taku that busy. I guess the neighbhorhood got what it wanted ;)

    3 of us so we sampled a variety of things. 3 bruschettas - mushroom, tomato, ricotta. All 3 were enjoyed (we didnt have any issue with mushroom temp...they were warm as I recall and as good as the prior time we had). Had the fried artichokes--they were a little oily/heavy for me, but the others loved them. Had a plate of proscuitto, soppresatta, taleggio which were all tasty. LOVED the meatballs we had next. Very creamy, excellent sauce. Had the orrechietta pasta with sausage, which had the perfect amount of saltiness...a well prepared, simple pasta dish.

    I think they werent expecting such attention from the get go, as quiet as Taku often was. So its going to take the staff a bit of time to react and adjust to their popularity. The service was a little slow for us but the waitress was very friendly and apologetic about any delays, just obviously very busy. Another waitress also checked in to make sure we were ok and not being forced to wait too long. I dont really mind slow service in a new place as long as the servers acknowledge it and try their best to keep you happy. If the food wasnt hot, I would have informed the staff....I'm sure they wouldnt want you eating lukewarm food had they known.

    This is definitely going to be a regular spot for us. I just hope reservations wont end up being necessary. Was amazed how busy everything on Smith St. was this past Friday. Chestnut was packed too when we walked past on a hunt for pie for dessert.

    1. Truth be told, despite my love for Taku, the service was often quite slow- and I do recall once seeing my bowl of ramen sit waiting to be put out for almost 10 minutes.

      Hopefully going to try lunetta tonight!

      1. Where is this place? Smith and what?

        1. between Dean and Pacific -- where Taku used to be.

          1. Went to La Lunetta this weekend, and while the food was good, the service and kitchen need some serious improvement.

            We arrived around 9 on Saturday (2 people), expecting to wait, but were seated immediately. There were a few other two-tops available as well.

            We ordered a bottle of Chianti, tomato bruschetta, beet salad, the fried sweet and sour chicken and the orechiette with sausage. The prices are quite reasonable ($11-15 for entrees, and only $3 for the wonderful bruschette), and the wine list is solid.

            The bruschetta and the salad were delicious and we were midway through enjoying them when the waitress suddenly brought out our entrees. She took a look at our appetizers, shrugged and dumped the entrees on the already crowded table unapologetically. I asked if they could bring the plates back when we were ready for them and she said "but it's ready now" and left them on the table.

            The irony here was that the chicken was actually undercooked and I had to send it back to the kitchen. The entrees were ok, not spectacular, but solidly good.

            We were big fans of Taku -- the food and service here doesn't seem to be in the same league. We may go back, but there are better Italian places in the neighborhood (e.g., Frankies).

            2 Replies
            1. re: oolah

              I just went to Frankies for the first time and have to say I prefer the food at Lunetta. I thought, in particular, the meatballs and Lunetta were far superior (they really are wonderful). I do think Frankies has a better cheese list.

              That's a pity to hear about the service....they do seem very harried, as they are unaccustomed to the sort of crowds they're drawing in with the new place. But thats no excuse for what happened to you with the entrees. When we went, they asked us up front about our preferred pacing and we said to bring everything out as it was ready, so we had no such problems.

              1. re: Nehna

                If the place had been totally packed, I might have been a little more sympathetic, but there were plenty of empty tables. That said, the food *was* good, so maybe I'll give them another shot if they can get their service in order.

                I haven't tried the meatballs at either place, but the cavatelli with sausage and sage at Frankie's is one of my neighborhood faves.