When I first visited Lucia, David Uygur was present but he wasn't working in the kitchen. The chef at Dallas' beloved Italian restaurant was sitting in his dining room at a table with his wife, having a quiet meal before heading home for the evening.
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See also: - Lucia's Best Kept Secret
At first I was a little upset. I came to spend big bucks at Lucia, and I picked the big chef's night off? But then I realized it says a lot about the cuisine here that a chef who works in the restaurant every day it is open can still find the plates interesting enough for a casual weeknight dinner with a loved one.
Celebrating Lucia as a fine-dining restaurant is far from breaking food news, but it's worth noting that in a city that's known for flighty chefs who bounce from concept to concept, and cavernous dining rooms funded by large investment and restaurant groups, Lucia hasn't changed much since it opened. Leslie Brenner's five star review at the Dallas Morning News reads as true today as it did when it was published two years ago.
I asked Uygur what his secret was for achieving high-quality and consistency over a long period of time, but he told me nothing new. "It's done by design," he told me, noting that he still enjoyed cooking in the restaurant daily. "I've had the same sous chef since we opened, not a lot of turnover, and I was lucky enough to hire good people." With a menu that seems to change almost every day, Uygur keeps his entire staff engaged. They're as committed to Lucia's approachable, yet hyper-refined cooking as he is.