Autentico Italiano© by John Axelrod Contact

where to find the best italian food outside Italy

Ristorante Luciano, Köln - Hospitality Italian Style

If I eat at Luciano's every night, as I have done for 4 days while conducting the WDR in Köln (Cologne), I will probably end up as that kind of man we all know with a protruding stomach, a double chin and a big smile. Come to think of it, that is a sign of contentment. A life well fed. If money can't buy you happiness, a great autenticoitaliano meal certainly will.

This is one of Cologne's oldest Italian restaurants on a street one might call a mini Italy (there are at least 4 other italian restaurants, enotecas and bars), very near the cathedral. Food and God go nicely together in the Italian kitchen and Luciano's, since 1969, is no exception. Eating here is a holy experience.

This was truffle season, and the white truffles from Alba were perfect. The Cappellini (not taglioni, though similar) was al dente and buttered. Nothing else needed. Then came Nunzio with his mandoline to shave the truffles. The smell was pure perfection, as was the pasta itself. Over the next few days, I indulged on eggplant parmigiana, so soft with a subtle sauce; a saltmibocca that was the Roman ideal, with a tender veal and the right amount of prosciuotto and sage; a milky, moist buffala mozzarella with San Daniele sliced ham; an ideal crespelle pasta filled with spinach, ricotta, garlic and pomodoro; a linguine verde with peas, bacon and cream sauce; a veal cutlet grilled to a golden brown on the bone; and finally, a rack of lamb, complete, slicing the meat off the bone as if it were butter.

The tiramisu is a classic, the zabaglione like a symphony of bubbles (that's how Rachel describes it), and the ricotta and pear torte that was surprisingly light. This is a ristorante that leaves no detail unchecked.

Finally, the wines: A Tignanello and Amarone were delicious, of course, but the ideal wine was the Feudi San Gregorio Taurasi 2006 that complimented everything on the menu. And, since Nunzio and his crew were from the south, Campania and Napoli, it was obvious I would be able to have my beloved Mirto di Sardegna on ice, a delicious after dinner drink, much lighter on the stomach than a Fernet Branca.

Cologne during Carnevale is a special sight to see. But Luciano's is the place to be when seeking an authentic Italian experience in this most German of cities. The Rheinische hospitality is famous. But nothing beats the Buona Sera and an open kitchen intent on making everyone happy. It was special to be able to see the open kitchen through a glass window; the chef and his crew like a theatre, the wait-staff attending to every need. That is what AutenticoItaliano is all about. Bravo Luciano's!

Marzellenstraße 68-70, 50668 Cologne, Germany
+49 221 135453