With so many Italian eateries doing the slickly consulted, high-art thing with stacked components, obscure ingredients, streaked sauces and wines that must be decanted even before you arrive, we’re thankful for casual neighborhood pizza/pasta joints like Da Luca. Which is not to say that there isn’t a bit of conceptual escapism to this place; note the checkered tablecloths, old world brick and wood accents, and traditional basket-wrapped bottles of Chianti. Nor are we suggesting that Da Luca is worth going out of your way for—it isn’t a “destination” by any means. The menu is modest, the food similarly simple and no-frills. To start, Da Luca’s beef carpaccio ($19.90) consists of fairly common ingredients (nothing you couldn’t find at Cold Storage)—machine-sliced formerly frozen beef, slivers of Romano, scattered rocket, trails of balsamic—but it’s fresh and a generous portion. Another lukewarm endorsement we give to the pizzas; our four cheese pie ($19.90) gets high marks for arriving piping hot and for its zesty tomato sauce but only a passing grade for its flat cracker crust. It is possible to get a main course featuring meat or seafood, but it should be obvious from an adorably amateur display of pasta in front of the restaurant that you are better off with one of the homemade pastas. The tagliatelle ($19.90) with beef and mushroom ragu ($19.90) is a winner, as is, to a lesser extent, the signature ravioli with cream sauce ($22.90), which leans toward heavy and one-dimensional (but is fine if you’re sharing). We’ve dined there for dinner, but frankly the space, while cozy and café-like with 15 or so tables plus a couple outside for smokers, is a bit dull at night, saddled as it is with a low ceiling, few windows and a limited clientele—mostly expats from the Newton area. Lunches are more lively, and the place is often filled with office workers enjoying 3-course sets for $16.50. You could do worse than to join them.
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