Locanda Vigna Ilaria Restaurant Review

This is a restaurant I'd been meaning to review for some time now and I'm glad I finally got the chance. The Vigna Ilaria has a rather rustic chic decor that creates an atmosphere of casual elegance. It has several different intimate dinning areas which I think allows it to be very versatile. You could easily have a romantic dinner for two in one of the smaller dinning areas, or a large family dinner in one of the larger areas or on the outside patio in fine weather.

I would characterize the menu as traditional Tuscan favorites reinterpreted with a bit of pizazz.

To start, I had a vegetable souflee which was served in a light cream sauce. Excellent! Very light and delicate flavors. My husband had a fantastic octopus and potato warm salad. This is traditionally a very simple dish and I normally don't bother to order it because it bores me. However, the way it was prepared by the chef was really wonderful. He somehow managed to keep the dish simple, but added some extra twist, what I don't know, that gave real depth to the flavor. The octopus was really tender, something a lot of chefs don't always manage to pull off. I would have switched plates with my husband if I could, it was that good. My next dish was a warm seafood salad. This, in my opinion, was not as good as the octopus. The fish was very fresh and cooked to perfection, but honestly, it lacked something. It was a bit too bland for my taste. I found myself wondering why the chef did such a great job with the octupus, a similar dish, and then chose to season the warm seafood salad only with olive oil, lemon and parsley. I could have done that myself at home. I understand about letting fresh seafood speak for itself, but I still think the dish could of used a little help. My son, who is 5 years old, had the fresh ravioli stuffed with eggplant and mozzarella cheese in a light tomatoe sauce. This was very good and very fresh. He cleaned his plate and pronounced it delicious, so that was a real winner as far as I'm concerned. My husband had the duck for his second course. I have to state that he is French, from the part of France that produces duck, so he is not easy to please when it comes to duck. In fact, he thought that the duck breast had been slightly overcooked and that it was just "o.k." I would have to agree with him. My son had a warm chocolate cake with chocolate sauce for his dessert that was really wonderful. My husband and I both had a macchiato (espresso with a bit of foam and a spoonfull of warm milk) and called it a day as we were both stuffed. We ordered a half bottle of Peppoli, one of our favorites, to go with the meal and it was, as usual, quite good.

So, what do I think of this restaurant? I like it. My only caveat would be that for an equivalent price, you can eat better at Il Gazebo Restaurant. It is still a very good restaurant and merits a visit, but if you have limited time and have to choose between two really good restaurants, I'd still choose Il Gazebo hands down, as their work is consistent from start to finish.

Vigna Ilaria is definitely not a cheap restaurant, we paid close to 100 euros for the 3 of us.

Directions: From the town walls of Lucca, exit out of Porta San Jiacopo and turn left at the first stop light. At the first round about, go right onto the via Matteo Civitali in the direction of Camaiore. Still following the signs for Camaiore, go through two stop lights until you come to a stop sign where you can either go left or right, but not forward. Go left, then immediately right again. This will put you on a bridge that goes over the Serchio River. Just after having crossed the bridge, make a left in the direction of Sant'Allessio/ Pieve Santo Stefano. You'll find the restaurant about 300 meters after the road begins to climb upward. You should see a sign for the Vigna Ilaria on your left. Turn left into the gates, then go straight past the restaurant as you will need to park in the lot behind it.

The restaurant also has a large patio with white umbrellas that looks like it would be really pleasant for outdoor dinning. They also rent 4 double bedrooms just above the restaurant. I've not seen the rooms, so can't comment on the level of accomodation.

Vigna Ilaria Address: Via per Pieve Santo Stefano, 967/C S. Alessio, Lucca
Phone number: 0583 332091
Closed Mondays
web site: www.locandavignailaria.it

posted by gina, 2006-10-02

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