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Friday, June 25, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
By Susan Sprague Yeske
For Luca Di Meglio, it's all about the food.
The gregarious chef, born on the lush Italian resort island of Ischia and raised in Lawrenceville,
lives and breathes his country's native cuisine.
His day is filled with cooking for his customers or crafting new dishes for future use at Luca's,
which he opened five years ago in a small strip center in Flemington.
"I live that lifestyle," he says of his love of classic Italian dishes, and has lived it for the past 25 years.
Di Meglio fell in love with cooking under the tutelage of his aunt, Nancy DiMeglio,
whom Chambersburg aficionados will recall as chef at the former Francesco's,
a popular eatery during the glory days of Italian restaurants in Trenton.
"Aunt Nancy was a huge influence on me,"
he says, repeating her adage that "there are no shortcuts in the kitchen."
That means he and his staff make everything on the premises including stocks, soups, most pastas and desserts.
Additional inspiration comes from his home island,
where he grew up eating local meats and produce grown in the volcanic soil, and enjoying the culture.
His restaurant is decorated to reflect that heritage, which has an ethic defined as "use what you have" and "do it yourself."
His aunt, who is now retired, dines at Luca's in Flemington,
as well as at Di Meglio's first restaurant, Luca's in Somerset, which is now operated by his brother, Andrea.
Di Meglio will debut his summer menu soon, with 15 new dishes that reflect his adaptations of classic Italian cuisine
to reflect the desires of contemporary Americans.
"What works is I try to make it acceptable to today's palate," he says.
"It's a little healthier with more vegetables and less frying."
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