Lucio: An Old School Fulham Road Favourite
Whilst a huge chunk of this site is focussed on new openings, it is worth noting that the Very Kerri brand is wholly devoted to London’s grazing and guzzling scene in its entirety; the old, the new, and anything in between. We all love exploring innovative dining concepts, but let’s remember that some of our favourite haunts are those which have stood the test of time, and still come up trumps, again and again. Enter Lucio.
A few years back, a good friend hosted his birthday here – there’s a gorgeous PDR downstairs for circa 20 pax – and we’ve been regulars ever since. The vibe is old school Italian through and through; if Lucio isn’t around, the place virtually shuts down. And what a character the namesake himself is; welcoming you into what feels like his home with hugs and kisses aplenty.
On this golden Friday evening, we’re welcoming my Godmother (GM) to her Chelsea residence for a week. The place is awash with sun kissed locals and a healthy dose of Italians; always a good thing in an Italian joint. A basket of warm gluten-free bread arrives, which we polish off in no time flat. As we peruse the beautifully simple menu, more of this suspiciously tasty bread appears, although I thought they would’ve got the hint with the olive oil. Two nips in a saucer isn’t going to cut the mustard my friend, I don’t care how rare and wonderful the stuff is, leave the bottle! Keen to steer clear of my favourite Gavi, I let a dark Italian man lead me astray with a niche producer’s white made from 100% Falanghina grapes in a small vineyard near Irpina in Campania. I am glad I listened for once; what a wine!The weather has me in a carpaccio mood, and swordfish carpaccio (a special on the day) delivers on every level; the crunchy fennel salad works magically as an accompaniment with a drizzle of ‘that’ olive oil. Darty’s tuna carpaccio (a long-standing Lucio favourite of mine) is a celebration of exquisite ingredients prepared simply and perfectly. The GM opts for an antipasti-style starter with a hero piece of creamier than creamy burrata. This is fresh honest Italian cooking at its best. It’s pasta all round, yes me included, for mains. Although they don’t make gluten-free pasta in-house, there are always at least two types which one can pair with most of the sauces. Relishing Mediterranean flavours with such a delicious wine, I keep things classic and get involved with spaghetti alle vongole. The combination of shellfish, lemon, chilli, flat leaf parsley (current obsession) and olive oil really makes my heart sing. The GM’s pappardelle with slivers of my favourite pecorino, spinach and broad beans is packed with freshness and full of flavour, so I hear. I wish gluten-free pappardelle was commonplace – adore the stuff. Darty’s crab ravioli is a hearty state of affairs; the crabmeat filling is worth braving the kitchen pass to ask for the recipe. With that Friday feeling, we opt for liquid dessert, in the form of Sgroppinos. I’m not a big pudding fan but I am partial to a Sgroppino (or five) when I’m out; partly because they’re one of my dinner party winners, so I have a good benchmark, and mainly because I just LOVE them. Sgroppinos are an Italian classic; lemon sorbet whipped with vodka and charged with prosecco. I top them with grated lime zest and a few flecks of chilli. Lucio’s Sgroppinos are mintier than my own, but I love them all the same, perfect for summertime, when the living is easy.
Five Very Kerri things about Lucio;
- The man himself
- Gluten-free pizzazz
- The personal touch
- Rare feeling of space between diners
- Minty Sgroppinos