May 22, 2008

You Gotta Eat: Lucca Grill

By WEEK Producer

July 13, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM CDT

A Bloomington restaurant is seeping in local flavor and history.

Eric Shangraw has a guest along for a trip to the Lucca Grill in this week's You Gotta Eat.

The Lucca Grill is the oldest restaurant in the same location in Bloomington. This is a photo from opening day 71–years ago. Not much has changed since 1936. They've hung a few knickknacks on the wall... and a special oven was added near the entrance when the Lucca introduced pizza to Central Illinois in 1953.

Best pizza in town. (Why so?) It is thin crust. –Very crunchy. It is just good pizza.

The Lucca is known as a Democratic safe–house in predominantly Republican McLean county. This is former owner John Baldini meeting with JFK before he was President. John Edwards met with the current owner Chuck Williams when he was running for President the first time. I broke bread with Father Julius at the Lucca. He's from Uganda, serving at Epiphany Parish in Normal for the next two and a half years while studying for his masters' degree in Education Administration at ISU. He likes American lasagna and salad and bread... but craves a staple in his homeland, goat meat.

And since I've arrived here, I've not seen goat meat. And I miss it. It is tasty and delicious! (If we find some goat meat we will call you and let you know where you can find it) I will be happy.

Father Julius ordered the spaghetti lunch special. It comes with salad and a drink. He said it was very nice. I had the cheeseburger and fries lunch special. The thick burgers are cooked to order on the grill. Our bill with drinks, 11–dollars plus tip. The Washington Post once called the Lucca and old–fashioned diner. You can't say you've spent any real quality time in the twin cities... if you don't soak up the atmosphere at the Lucca.

The Lucca Grill kitchen is open seven days a week from 11am-10pm. The lunch special runs Monday through Friday from 11am-2pm.

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