Luca's Chophouse opened in its new location at the corner of Tienken and Rochester roads earlier this summer, and Patch readers have been fast and generous with their rave reviews.
After I read Rochester Patch Facebook fan Amy Beth say "the beef tip appetizer was uncomfortably delicious: heavy cream, lots of salt, buttery tender beef," I knew it was abundantly clear that I needed to get there fast.
Let's call it a date night
On Saturday night we got a sitter, dressed up (thank you Francesca's Collection!) and met friends at the Rochester area's newest chophouse. Our reservations secured us a table near the waterfall and temptingly close to the wall of wine.
The restaurant's interior looks nothing like its prececessor, the Mexican eatery that was Los Locos. Luca's is warm and inviting, done in shades of rich brown and soft green—even down to the waitstaff uniforms. My favorite touch, though, was the large artwork, including one over the entryway, depicting owner Luca Gjonaj's childhood home in Albania.
In my original conversation with the Gjonaj family, son Nik told me that hospitality is the backbone of the Albania culture. With an attentive staff, including outstanding service from our knowlegable waiter, Derek, and both the manager and owner making their rounds, our party felt well cared for. (One nicety rarely seen but much appreciated: our flatware was cleared and replaced after the appetizers.)
Bread and apps
Patch reader Amy Beth commented that Luca's bread can rival that of Kruse and Muers. I'm not sure I'd go that far — I do have a thing for poppy seeds — but the warm bread was lovely, and the sundried tomato and black olive butter it was served with was unique and savory.
For appetizers we tried the stuffed portabello mushroom with jumbo lump crab and topped with a pesto cream sauce. The menu description is accurate — you only get one for $10.99 — but it was meaty and rich and our party of six was satisfied with the portions.
Our server recommended the calamari, flash fried and served in a citrus buerre blanc for $8.99. The calamari was perhaps the thickest I've ever been served, but it was the banana peppers that took this common dish to a whole new level.
This is one of those dishes I won't be able to stop thinking about until I get more.
Bring on the beef!
Soup, a side salad or Luca's Lanka can be added to any entree for an additional $2.50. Both the classic Caesar salad and the lanka—shredded cabbage tossed in a wonderful Mediterranean vinaigrette—got high marks from our party.
And then came the beef.
I did dabble with the idea of ordering the Sea Bass Santiago that Nik had raved about in our original conversation, but I know myself: if I were to be surrounded by a table of filets, rib eye and porterhouse, one sweet little fish, no matter how good, just wouldn't cut it.
I ordered the petite filet (6 ounces) for $24.99 and topped with stilton bleu cheese for an additional $2.99. All steaks are served with zip sauce, parmesan mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. My filet was delightfully seasoned and melt-in-the-mouth good. The mashed potatoes made a perfect pairing and the vegetables were pleasantly crisp.
If there is one caution I would give, at least the night we were there, the steaks were all prepared more on the rare side, meaning my medium-rare order came to me as a rare. (This was consistent in all the orders at our table).
In the end, our table ordered nearly four and a half pounds of beef and only one doggy bag came home (that's my dinner tonight, thank you very much!)
Although we were members of the Clean Plate Club, sadly, that left no room for dessert. Patch reader Renee Delsignore had given the homemade sweet endings high marks, but they will have to wait for another visit ... along with the sea bass, lanka, calamari, Oscar filet, and, well, the list goes on!
Welcome to Rochester Hills, Luca!
Luca's Chophouse is located at 6870 Rochester Road. Hours are 11 a.m. -11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Make a reservation at 248-266-6370.