Best New Restaurant - 2002
When Luciano's first debuted, the servers were eager to please but their skills were a bit dubious. Manager Michael Del Pietro hired more servers with fine-dining experience and tailored the training to each person's needs; servers attend food classes and wine tastings so that they can make informed recommendations. But it's really not the pampering or the swank surroundings that draw us to Luciano's. It's the food. Del Pietro cooks with graceful assurance, never crowding a dish with too many fussy ingredients. He knows how to put a good sear on a grouper, make a velvety beurre nantais and use restraint with obnoxious herbs such as rosemary and tarragon. Del Pietro's approach is complemented by the clever work of Sherman. She, too, avoids ornate creations that do nothing but muddle perfectly good flavors. Her desserts, poised and tasteful, have an Italian flair without descending into the tried-and-trite.