Ken and Tricia Martino are husband and wife and co-owners of Osteria LuCa, Charlotte’s new Italian restaurant in the Park Road Shopping Center. The restaurant, which opened in January of this year, is their second Charlotte venture, following the success of TRUE Crafted Pizza in the Ballantyne area. TRUE and LuCa are the products of a lifetime in the restaurant industry. Both Ken and Tricia have been immersed in food service since young adulthood—Ken since high school and Tricia since college. The couple moved to Charlotte specifically to introduce their culinary passions to the city.
At Osteria LuCa, the culinary staff begins each dish with high quality ingredients, and then brings out their inherent tastiness with a few twists—perhaps a dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, a blast of heat. When possible, ingredients come from local ingredients; for example, LuCa’s cheese supplier is, fittingly, local by way of Italy. Menu staples are available year-round, while other dishes rotate to showcase seasonal ingredients.
The star attraction of the menu is its woodfired pizza selection. Available with red or white bases, Osteria pizzas feature innovative toppings and sophisticated cheeses. For an outstanding red base experience, sample the broccoli rabe and sausage pizza, or try the wild mushrooms and caramelized onions white pie, topped with taleggio, fontina, and fresh thyme.
The menu also includes an expansive appetizer list. Explore hot or cold options tapas style or individually. And, of course, no Italian restaurant would be complete without a selection of pasta dishes. At Osteria, options include ricotta ravioli, pappardelle bolognese, and cavatelli with lamb sausage and rabe.
Guests can pair their fare with an assortment of libations. The wine list is entirely Italian, featuring small production bottles with varietal character. Nine of the ten draft beers are brewed in North Carolina. Eight of those nine come directly from Charlotte breweries. Traditional Italian and modern American cocktails are also available for the sophisticated sipper.
New Food and New Friends
Although diners come to Osteria LuCa for the food, they return for the people. The Martinos’ vision for LuCa is a welcoming, communal space akin to a family restaurant in a small Italian town. They wanted to construct a space where “the whole neighborhood can get together, have a nice meal, and enjoy each other’s company,” says Ken.
This vision becomes reality through a friendly and responsive staff, as well as the restaurant’s design. The interior incorporates floor to ceiling windows, communal tables, high ceilings, and a window into the firing area. Named for Ken and Tricia’s children, Lucas and Caroline, LuCa emphasized family and friends from the outset. The Martino family continues to pursue a relationship with Osteria LuCa’s neighborhood by serving the community when they aren’t feeding it.
The result is a restaurant for anyone and everyone, for new friends and old friends, and, of course, for wine and pizza.