Getting a table at Lucali's (and the scoop on the corkage fee)
I think I know the secret to getting a table at Lucali's -- no muss, no fuss.
Show up early.
Twice now I've walked in at 6:30pm -- once on a Tuesday and once on a Thursday -- and both times the place has been 75% empty. Empty!
But within 15 minutes every single table is taken and within 30 minutes there's a clutch of 10 people waiting for a table.
Bottom line -- Lucali's is a special place. Make the time to get there a little early. :)
Oh, and I got word on the corkage fee from Mark himself. It's $4 per table. No matter how many people, no matter how many bottled of wine. $4. Seems pretty darned reasonable to me!
Ok, so it wasn't a Tuesday. It must have been a Monday or Wednesday. I just remember it being earlier in the week.
And yes, self-interest motivates me to keep these empty tables a secret for Steve and me, but at the same time, Mark's selling $18 pizzas. If we don't keep this place at capacity all the time I worry a bit for it's long-term prospects.
We showed up on a saturday at 6:30. Every table was full, and there was a four-top that was waiting who had arrive at 6:00. They said there was a line before they even opened. We only waited about 10 minutes, because tables were finishing up. But the four-top didn't sit down until after 7:00, because the four-tops were taking longer to finish (and there are less of them).
BUT, he was serving sausage as a topping and it was soooooooooo good!! This place has moved up the list to near the top for my pizza bests. (Part of the reason is that it is so close to home!)
We've been going weekly for several weeks (different times, dfferent nights but more often than not a Fri or a Sun) and have only been unable to sit down right away once. That was a friday at around 10 PM. Otherwise, there's always been one or two tables. Maybe we've just been lucky.
Last time we were there it was pretty slow (oscar night) and it looked like there was someone running deliveries so I asked Mark and he said they'd do it if they could (i.e. if it was slow enough and close by).
MMMMM.....sausage. Do you know if that's going to be a a regular topping?
Going late works too. My husband and I usually show up after 9 and don't have to wait very long.
We also happen to live just a few blocks away, so occasionally we'll give them our phone number and they'll just give us a call when there's a table ready. Since we're there in under a minute, this has saved us a few waits in the freezing cold. Not sure they'd do this for anyone, but I've noticed other regulars using this tactic.
Finally, an interesting note about the pizza. Last time I was there, I noticed the pizza was extra-crispy and I mentioned it to Mark, who said that the crispiness of the pizza varies through the night, depending on the oven temperature. He mentioned that the pizzas are crispier earlier on in the night, chewier as the evening progresses. So, factor that in to your timing too :)