Tightarse Travels: Adelaide’s Lucia’s
I love Adelaide’s Central Markets and could spend all day wandering up and down the crowded aisles, tasting cheeses and smelling flowers, but they are so much more than a produce market, they are also the home to my mother’s favourite Italian restaurant in Adelaide: Lucia’s.
Everything at Lucia’s is under $15, which makes me wonder if my mother was once a total stinge too, she just refuses to admit it. Of course, this meant I could have anything I wanted, without having to compromise on what I actually felt like. (Disclaimer: I actually went to lunch with my aunty K and uncle P and they totally paid.)
A restaurant and deli in one, Lucia’s is constantly chaotic, with people jostling for a table anywhere they can squeeze in, before having to risk it all to line up and order. While the inside is incredibly chic and French-bistro-ish in its decor, sitting outside the restaurant itself is the best spot for people watching, as well as deciding which of the treats at the chocolate and cake shop across the way you’ll pick up after lunch.
I’ve never cared much for ‘seasonal’ eating in the sense of eating food that is appropriate to the season you’re in (however buying seasonal produce? I’m all about that!), and often I crave a bowl of gnocchi in bolognaise sauce, even if it is 30 degrees outside. So I didn’t hesitate when I spotted it on the menu.
Gnocchi is hard to get right, but these fluffy pillows of potato and flour were a delight to squish between my teeth. The sauce was properly saucy, to the point I almost wished I’d had bread to mop it up, because there was so much of it. The meat was tender and there was absolutely no shortage of sharp parmesan cheese to tie the whole thing together.
The pizzas are Lucia’s are not real ‘pizza’ – in fact, they look like the kind of ham and cheese rolls you used to get in your primary school lunch box, but they don’t taste anything like that dry, doughy nothingness that I so hated about those rolls. Nope, the toppings have flavour: the olives are salty, the marinated capsicum is silky and that’s proper ham under there. The cheese only barely holds the toppings to the crisp base, with it’s thick, fluffy interior. Because these ‘pizzas’ are so tasty, my uncle was reluctant to share. As you can see, I only barely managed to snap this before hr told me to shoo, he was hungry.
My aunty ordered the salad with chicken, hold the dressing. I was horrified by her desire to eat a naked salad, something my mother would NEVER approve of in a million years, had she been at our lunch. (I told mum later on the phone, I can confirm her horror.) Needless to say, being located inside the Central Market means that Lucia’s has access to the best produce in Adelaide and I most certainly found myself stealing strips of carrot from across the table, it was so crunchy and refreshing. I didn’t even get a look at that avocado, as if my aunty would ever share that…
Lucia’s is, at any one time, full of young families, office workers and the elderly, all looking for a great feed that won’t break the bank. It’s the perfect lunch spot to carbo-load before you take on the markets themselves and one I can’t wait to revisit, next time I fly home.
Lucia’s is located inside the Adelaide Central Markets