Editor’s Note: Lucky’s closed on Jan. 27, 2019 due to rising rental costs.
I know I’m making a bold statement. The best of anything is hard to prove with such varying taste buds as we have in Austin. But if you’re looking for truly authentic Italian food, I guarantee Lucky’s Puccias & Pizzeria will deliver. Here’s why.
What Makes Lucky’s Authentic?
Sibilla, Lucky’s owner and namesake, is from Italy. Straight “off the boat,” with an endearing accent and all. And being from Italy, “Lucky” brings with him a wealth of Italian cuisine knowledge. This alone makes Lucky’s Puccias & Pizzeria more authentic than your typical Italian eatery.
*Disclaimer: my folks also immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970’s and opened a pizza shop. Italians know pizza. It’s in our blood.
This may sound strange, but if an Italian restaurant can’t even spell the name of their signature dishes correctly, they lose points in my book. Luckily, Lucky’s native knowledge of the Italian language gives him the upper hand. (I’m so happy I was able to use “luckily, Lucky” in a sentence. Makes me laugh.)
Each region in Italy has its own cuisine. Rome is know for its Amatriciana and Carbonara, Genova is known for its Pesto, and Puglia–the heel of the boot–is known for its simple, yet rich, rustic dishes such as the puccia.
Why is this important to know? As in the U.S., you wouldn’t expect a BBQ restaurant to have burgers, casseroles and pizza. You’d just expect them to do BBQ. And do it really well. So when evaluating an Italian restaurant, ask yourself, “Do they specialize in a particular regional cuisine?” Because you shouldn’t expect an authentic Italian restaurant to have amazing pasta, seafood, risotto and pizza. Just doing one really well is difficult enough. And Lucky’s Puccias & Pizzeria does it “alla pugliese” – Puglia style.
High Quality, Organic, Fresh Ingredients
Italian cuisine, regardless of the region it originates from, is known for being so simple and basic that it seems implausible that it could taste so good. But when you have quality products, there’s no need to mask them.
At Lucky’s they use organic, local veggies and imported Italian specialities. Even their wine hails from Puglia! And their gelato? Ok…maybe it doesn’t come directly from Italy, but it is from Dolce Neve. (If you haven’t been there yet, do yourself a favor and go. It’s another authentically Italian place in Austin.)
Both locations, Lucky’s food trailer and brick and mortar restaurant, have wood-fired ovens. The custom built, traditional style oven at the brick and mortar location is what allowed Lucky to expand his menu to pizza. Authentic Italian = traditional cooking methods.
Another point in my book. But who’s keeping score anyway?
Puccias vs. Pizzas
A puccia, pronounced pooh-chah, is a local tradition in the region of Puglia. It’s a flatbread, rustic style sandwich. The bread is thicker than pita and not as chewy as ciabatta. Topped with cured Italian meats and veggies, you don’t need condiments because the ingredients are so legit. There are also vegetarian styles with grilled veggies.
When I lived in Puglia in 2003, 2006 and 2007 (yes, I kept going back), I ate puccias on a weekly basis. So when I discovered Lucky’s food truck back in 2010, I was elated to taste a piece of Puglia in Austin.
Only during a recent soft opening at Lucky’s Puccias & Pizzeria brick and mortar was I finally able to try Lucky’s pizza. He did not disappoint.
The pizza is simple. Using the same dough for the pizza crust as they do for the puccias, Lucky’s makes it not too thick and not too thin. I sampled the Capricciosa, or capricious in English, named for its varied toppings which include sliced ham, artichokes, mushrooms, spicy salami, Kalamata olives and an egg. My favorite!
Lu Mare, Lu Sule, Lu Ientu
There is a section of Puglia called Salento. In Salento, there is a saying locals live by, “lu mare, lu sule, lu ientu,” which literally translates to, “the sea, the sun, the wind.”
This simple saying should give you a sense of southern Italian culture and cuisine. All you need are the basics in life to live happily. Water at your feet, sun on your face and wind in your hair. That also goes for their food. Simple. Rich in flavor. Pure. This is probably why I fell in love with puccias, and ultimately why Lucky’s serves the best authentic Italian food in Austin.
So congrats to Lucky for finally making it to a brick and mortar location! Be sure to stop by across the street from Donn’s Depot at 1611 W 5th St. They are open:
- Monday-Friday from 10 AM-10 PM
- Saturday from 11 AM-10 PM
- Sunday from 12 PM-8 PM
Lucky’s food truck is just down the street at Littlest Bar in Texas, across from Whole Foods HQ at 817 W 5th St.
@jpino9 wants to know:
Have you tried a puccia?