Seen for many months on top of the Foodable Top 25 Restaurants for Dallas, Lucia is not your typical Texan joint, whatever that means. But neither is its chef and co-owner, David Uygur, who started up the Italian restaurant with his wife five years ago.
“I grew up in east Texas, but my dad was Turkish so I always had different stuff than what you would normally have growing up in east Texas,” says Uygur. “My fifth birthday meal was braised squid.”
Located in Dallas’ booming Bishop Arts District, Lucia is an intimate restaurant with a “neighborhood feel,” a factor that Uygur and his wife found essential in the location. It’s a small enough venue where the staff can have contact with the food and the people. “I can stand at the pass…and I can see every single table,” Uygur says. “I can see when somebody’s done eating, you can see the fun shot when people are sharing some kind of spaghetti or long-cut pasta.”
At Lucia, all salumi, bread, and pasta is made fresh in-house. And although Italian is the main focus of the menu, “we cook with products that are distinctly Texan,” notes Uygur. “The food that we do here is Italian—at least in inspiration—and then we use whatever we can around here.”
Uygur got his start, like most, at an early age. “I washed dishes when I was 15, I went to culinary school when I was 19, [and] I’ve been in Atlanta; Portland, Ore.; Austin, TX; and here.”
In this “Table 42” vignette, Uygur takes us into the kitchen at Lucia, where he shows us how to make tagliatelle with mushrooms, boar pancetta, sage, and garlic. The pasta is made of egg yolks and pasta flour and prepared ahead of time so it can rest and hydrate all of the flour. From there, rice flour is added (“to keep from sticking to itself”), and the pasta is laminated. To make the dish, render some of the pancetta until color can be seen, then add mushrooms, turn heat to low, add garlic and then sage, and cook pasta in a rolling boil with salted water. A bit of lemon should be added for good measure before draining the pasta a little bit, and then add Parmigiano Reggiano.
“One of the things that I always found fascinating about cooking is, you have something that maybe other people don’t know how to make or you think that that’s just a product that you can go and you buy,” says Uygur. “I always like the ability to figure out how to make something.”