Dish: Rosa’s Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberries
Restaurant: Luciano’s Restaurant, Clinton Township, Michigan
Price Tag: $5.95
Let me start by saying that when it comes to Luciano’s Restaurant in southeast Michigan, I am more than a bit biased. I have been coming to this neighborhood institution for as long as I can remember. When my family and I enter the restaurant, conveniently located in a strip mall (because, really, what isn’t in a strip mall in Michigan?) just one mile from our house, the owner and employees at Luciano’s go out of their way to make us feel welcome and genuinely at home in their restaurant. At this point, our usual waiter (hey there, Karen!) knows our orders by heart, down to their nitty-gritty details (no soup, just salad, for me, with blue cheese dressing, of course, extra sauce on my penne palomino and a strawberry cheesecake to-go).
Now living in New York City, I’m not able to frequent Luciano’s as often as I’d like, except on those rare trips home during the holidays. As eccentric as this local stand-by is, what with its floor-to-ceiling 3D mural of Venetian streets, cheesy tchotchkes and nude statuettes of Roman goddesses, Luciano’s consistently turns out generous portions of fine Italian food for very reasonable prices, especially when compared to Manhattan’s high standards and price tags. White its palomino sauce is out-of-this-world decadent and the broiled salmon is tender and moist, the restaurant’s desserts are most impressive, none more so than the cheesecake.
We’ve all had cheesecake. It’s often trite and overdone. Just eh – okay, at best – with a crumbly crust and heavy filling. But Rosa’s cheesecake is anything but average. It’s made with ricotta cheese, at once tangy, fluffy and oh-so light. There’s no discernable crust on this cheesecake, as its bottom, sides and center are baked as one. The uniform creamy texture is key in this dessert – each bite is soft and perfectly smooth, only bettered by the cool freshness of a sweet strawberry sauce. Picture this on your fork: a slice of ripe berry, a small cross-section of velvety cheesecake with a light layer of fruity sauce. Oh my goodness.
Luciano’s boasts sublime Italian food – traditional takes on classic dishes – so well because of its friendly staff and warm conviviality, corny decorations notwithstanding. Its expert cheesecake dessert is simply icing on the cake.
Maria Russo is a senior at Barnard College and takes this cheesecake to-go, so that she can enjoy it at home in her pjs. Read more . . .