Latest opening: Luci

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Aqua Restaurant Group opens Luci in Covent Garden its most casual venture yet

Related tags Aqua Restaurant Group David Yeo London Casual dining

David Yeo’s latest restaurant is his most casual yet, in some cases even undercutting the major chains.

What:​ The latest opening from the Hong Kong-based Aqua Restaurant Group. On Covent Garden’s Long Acre, Luci is billed - somewhat inaccurately, it must be said - as ‘London’s first Italian dining bakery’ combining a counter-service café downstairs with a full-service but still relatively-casual restaurant upstairs. 

Who:​ The man behind Aqua Restaurant Group is David Yeo. A former lawyer, Yeo opened his first restaurant in 2000, arriving in London In 2009 with the multi-faceted Aqua in Regent Street. More projects in the UK have followed including Chinese fine dining restaurant Hutong at The Shard and the more recently opened Shiro in The City, which specialises in the group’s proprietary ‘crystal sushi’. Aqua Restaurant Group is now a major player on the international restaurant scene with a presence in New York, Miami and Dubai. The kitchen at Luci is overseen by executive chef Andrea Pesenti. 

The food: ​Prices for the café downstairs are extremely approachable, in some cases even undercutting the likes of Pret A Manger. Generously-filled panini start at £3, a large slice of pizza al taglio costs £5 and a scoop of house-made gelato cost £3.50. Upstairs won’t break the bank either, with most pasta dishes priced around £12 and (full-size) Neapolitan pizza from £11. Some of the antipasti and main course dishes are priced more in-line with other premium Italian ventures but in general prices are remarkably keen given Luci’s location and the group that is behind it. 

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To drink: ​Luci’s wine list is exclusively Italian and well-chosen, featuring some of the country’s most respected producers including Franz Haas, G.D. Vajra and Allegrini’s Poggio al Tesoro. The wine is a lot more punchy that the food, with still wines starting at £7.50 a glass/£39 a bottle. The cocktail list is nearly exclusively Italian in terms of inspiration, the one exception being an Espresso Martini (it does contain Frangelico, at least). Other option include Cynar Spritz, Negroni Sbagliato and Bellini. 

The vibe:​ Luci may be a venture into more casual territory for Yeo - Aqua, Hutong and Shiro are relatively high-end - but the spaced has a premium, carefully-considered feel. The downstairs has a long counter down the right-hand side where a wide selection of Italian dishes can be ordered for both takeout and eat-in from various stations. The concept is based on a style of ‘bancone’ canteen restaurant that are popular in Italy’s more well-heeled cities (this mode of eating was also at least partly the inspiration for the Alan Yau-founded Princi and Kurt Zdesar’s now closed Fucina). Upstairs is a little more formal with a more evenings-orientated aesthetic and great views onto Long Acre. 

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And another thing:​ Yeo will open a second, more ambitious Italian restaurant later this year​. On Chelsea’s Sloane Street, Azzurra will be inspired by Sicily and the Amalfi coast but will focus on fish from UK waters.

136 Long Acre, London WC2E 9AA
lucirestaurant.co.uk

Related topics Restaurant Openings Casual Dining

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