Leuca is a big Italian restaurant, run by a famous chef, located on the ground floor of a very modern Williamsburg hotel that looks a bit like a space station, and you can think about this restaurant in one of two ways. The first way is to think of it as just that: a big Italian restaurant, run by a guy who has a bunch of popular places in Manhattan, in a building that looks like it belongs in Midtown or Chelsea.
If you come into Leuca this way, you’ll end up disappointed. You’ll be disappointed that the food isn’t as good as some of Andrew Carmellini’s other restaurants like Locanda Verde or Lafayette. You might be disappointed to see that this particular strip of Williamsburg is starting to look like a little bit like some grayer version of Miami Beach or Dubai, and that the people who move here after college now are investment bankers who like EDM festivals.
Or, you can look at Leuca a different way: as a totally fine hotel restaurant. The pizzas and salads here are solid, there are big comfortable booths, the servers are nice, the wine list is great, and you can probably get a table for eight later this week. The food won’t blow you away, but it also won’t make you go home angry. If we got invited to a big group dinner here and didn’t come in with any expectations, we’d probably go home not-upset.
Of course, we do come in with expectations and the knowledge of so many other good restaurants in the area, so it’s hard to get too excited about Leuca. But it’s hard to get too mad about it either. If you are one of those young investment bankers who likes EDM festivals and lives in a big building on Kent, you can bring your parents here when you can’t get into Lilia. If your boss nicely suggests doing the next team dinner in Brooklyn since the whole team lives there, but you suspect she actually would rather do it on the Upper East Side, you could do worse than Leuca.
It all depends on how you look at it.
This comes with hot honey and garlic and some bread to dip with. A bit sweet, but also a crowd-pleaser.
Undoubtedly someone at your table will say, “Hmm... should we get the tuna crudo?” And it will taste like every other tuna crudo you’ve ever eaten. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact.
Mafaldini is like a thin ravioli sheet, but cooked as if it were papardelle, and it seems to be very popular in Williamsburg right now. This one can’t come close to competing to the one at Lilia, but it’s a good plate of carbs covered in pesto and peppers.
Sounds good on paper, didn’t do it for us in execution. Skip this one.
Chewy and crispy, and one of the better things here.
Another pizza, topped with prosciutto and artichokes. This one’s solid too, but we’re partial to keeping it simple with the classic margherita.