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Lucrezia Cafe’s Italian cooking wows diners

If you go

What: Lucrezia Cafe & Restaurant

Where: 428 S. Calumet Ave., Chesterton

Hours: Open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Contact: 926-5829

MENU PRICES

Prices at Lucrezia’s are surprisingly reasonable and offer multiple options for diners on different budgets.

Appetizers range from $4 for bruschetta to $16 for four pan-seared scallops. Stuffed banana peppers are $8, mussels are $9 and the antipasto platter for two costs $15. Our roasted quail appetizer from the specials menu was $10.

Soups and salads are $4 to $10 and pasta selections begin at $12 for penne en casserole and top out at $17 for sacchetti. The stuffed eggplant is $15, osso buco or grilled wild Alaskan salmon are $23 and the grilled 14-ounce bone-in strip steak is $27. My wife’s slow-roasted pork ribs from the specials menu was $21 and my pan-seared flounder was $22.

Desserts range from $3 to $8. Our stuffed strawberries cost $7 and the triple chocolate mousse is $8.

Lucrezia’s offers full bar service, and boasts one of the best wine lists in the area. By-the-glass choices range from $5 to $8 and by-the-bottle options between $20 and $225.

Maps

Updated: May 7, 2012 8:06AM



How could we resist roast quail with a marsala cream sauce and a mushroom risotto over a bed of lightly braised spinach?

The short answer is, we couldn’t. It was the first week of this early blossoming spring and the unseasonably warm weather it briefly brought. But on this night the temperatures felt like winter hadn’t quite surrendered yet.

We were dining at one of our favorites, Lucrezia Cafe & Restaurant in Chesterton, a place that specializes in home-cooked Italian cuisine.

Our waiter, Zdravko, was fast, competent and friendly. The quail seemed to arrive at our table so quickly we could have sworn it was someone else’s. It also disappeared fast enough that an FBI all points bulletin would have been pointless.

The skin was crispy and tasty and the flesh tender and flavorful. The risotto was exquisite, intensely flavored and a bold accompaniment to the lovely fowl. And the light and creamy marsala sauce beautifully accented the bird.

We were off to a great start.

Lucrezia’s is a small, cozy eatery that always seems filled with loyal patrons, the kind of place that you plan to return to even before you finish your meal.

The two dining areas of the 45-seat restaurant are intimate, with the walls painted in sedate blues and the wood floors adding a touch of elegance.

The specials menu persuaded us. While the regular menu featured favorites like braised lamb shanks, osso buco and grilled Alaskan salmon, as well as imaginative pasta dishes, my wife was intrigued by the slow-cooked roasted pork ribs with a blood orange glaze, and I was lured by the pan-seared flounder, a fish seldom found swimming in Northwest Indiana waters. Both entrees were served with a generous portion of creamy smashed potatoes and fresh green beans in a tomato sauce.

Though our swelling bellies sent S.O.S. signals to the contrary, we couldn’t resist Lucrezia’s tempting array of house-made desserts, including favorites like bread pudding, creme brulee, tiramisu and zuccotto.

We ordered the stuffed strawberries: large, fresh berries split and mortared together with a marscarpone cheese filling and delivered with a chocolate and a caramel sauce. The berries were tart and sweetened by the sauces and the velvety cream cheese stuffing.

The triple chocolate mousse was a temptation, like that someone in our younger lives we knew wasn’t good for us, but proved hard to resist anyway. The two layers of chocolate and white chocolate mousse lay atop a chocolate cookie crumb crust and were joined by a creme caramel sauce. This was a rich, satisfying dessert that slaked my chocolate urge and made me feel guilty the next day.



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