In the historical centre of ancient Lucca you will find a museum of Contemporary Art that features traveling international exhibitions of the highest quality while showcasing local community artists. The museum is modest in size, but all exhibitions are well laid-out across three floors. The halls are intended to be completely aseptic: white boxes able to receive any work or installation of contemporary art. Lu.C.C.A. is perfect for a change in tone, a high contrast to the medieval and Renaissance art found elsewhere in Tuscany.
We recommend visiting the museum not only because it presents uncommon exhibitions, but also because it offers unconventional food! If you crave lasagne and traditional pasta, this is not exactly a place for you, but if you are open to culinary experiments within the framework of Italian cuisine – be sure to visit the Michelin starred gourmet “L’imbuto” (The Funnel).
Chef Cristiano Tomei is considered to be “enfant terrible” of Italian restaurant scene, whose creative thought makes “fake risotto” (finely-chopped vegetables with olive oil ice cream, served with raw lobsters) or oil and Parmesan-stuffed ravioli with grilled cuttlefish – typically Italian comfort food with a twist that Tomei refers to as a “mom’s embrace.”
Cristiano Tomei has a talent for putting different flavours together, he loves to travel and draws inspiration from all over the world, while using only local raw products: Tyrrhenian fish, dairy products, fruits and vegetables of Garfagnana; herbs, berries, shoots and the wildflowers that are picked daily in the woods and meadows of the region.
When we visited Lu.C.C.A.’s “L’imbuto” it felt as though we tasted a mix of Italian and Asian/Japanese dishes with freshly shucked oysters resting on a bed of steaming Japanese-style seaweed. With that said, there’s a chance you may never try those exact oysters as each dish at “L’imbuto” is unique.
There is no traditional menu: you sit down and receive a list with the prices €50, €70 and €90 (beverages not included, but the wine selection is truly impressive) to decide whether you want the 5, 7 or 9-course tasting menu and a list to check any food allergies or dietary dislikes. Thus, the chef adjusts the dishes not only according to what the market offers, or being inspired by the ongoing exhibition, but also from one table to the other.
“L’imbuto” is quite an experience and it makes absolute sense for it to be situated in a Center of Contemporary Art – the chef makes simple food refined and complicated dishes easy to appreciate. His dishes are works of art that everyone wants to photograph. Just like visiting a great exhibition in Lu.C.C.A., chef Tomei’s cooking flavors persist for a long time even after the meal is over, inspiring a conversation about art, food and the art of food.
Tip: The restaurant is small, so if you plan an intimate conversation, better leave it for later, since you can be heard (and hear your neighbours). Beware that the plastic chairs are not that comfy, so if you experience knee or back issues, do not plan to stay for too long.
Fact: There are no electrical gadgets in the kitchen, everything is handmade.