May 24, 2024
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May 24, 2024
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Lutali Makes You Feel Like Family

Lutali is an Italian restaurant, but the name is even more Italian. Ralph Mohadeb owns Lutali and named it after his wife Tali. He added the prefix to make it sound a bit more Italian.

But there’s something about Lutali being named for a family member that seems very appropriate. The restaurant isn’t large. It seats around 40 people. That makes it both a place that works well to rent out for a family event (like a sheva brachot) and a place that’s small enough for an intimate, comfortable setting.

Volcano salad

The restaurant carries a full sushi menu that’s mostly for takeout, delivery and events. But the main focus is their Italian food. As Italian food is widely seen as comfort food, the choice is a good one.

When I was invited to Lutali, I tried a variety of appetizers. But the one that filled its purpose the best was the Truffle Parmesan Fries. Obviously, these aren’t exactly a unique menu item. You might be able to get them in plenty of other places; however, Lutali might have close to the perfect version. The fries are hand-cut in-house, twice fried perfectly, and topped with a generous dusting of parmesan and a modest amount of strong truffle oil.

Truffle parmesan fries

This is a great example of the kind of place Lutali is. It’s not super flashy and it’s not breaking any new ground. But the food is really good and comfortable. You aren’t sitting in a five-star white tablecloth restaurant. Instead, the setting is cozy, pleasant and the kind of place that you might go to meet friends once a week.

Along that line, I’d recommend ordering a Volcano Salad if you are looking for a healthy option. It has a base of mixed greens topped with tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado, feta cheese crumbles, and sweet potato crisps. The lemon dressing’s acidity combines well with the rich feta, and the sweet potato crisps offer great contrast to the creaminess of the avocado. The portion size is pretty big so it’s great to share with a couple of friends, but it’s also enough for you to make a lunch meal out of (especially if you opt to add fish to it). This salad has just enough to make it feel a little special without it going over the top like you’ll see in some places.


Continuing on with things that could be your whole lunch or shared with a small group, the flatbreads at Lutali are excellent. They’ll remind you of pizza, but they are certainly flatbreads as they are very thin (but with a crispy undercarriage) and with no real raised crust on the outside. My favorite was the Bianca Mushroom, but I don’t think you could really go wrong on this section of the menu. With mushrooms mixed in truffle oil topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, this flatbread has a rich flavor that goes well with the amazing texture of the crisp bottom and cheesy top. I haven’t really seen this type of artisan pizza on many menus and it was a nice surprise when it arrived at my table. While it might be something a little different, you can’t go wrong with bread, sauce and cheese.

Bianca mushroom flatbread

Let’s transition from pizza to pasta. There’s a nice selection of pastas on the menu, but it’s the Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi that really caught my eye. Firstly, the house-made gnocchi are great. They aren’t too big or too small (both are style choices that have become slightly more popular recently) and they are just the right mouthfeel (not too firm or too chewy). But the most interesting part about this dish is that the spinach is mixed directly into the potato batter that the gnocchi is made from. This gives the gnocchi some added flavor and texture that you might not usually find, and it allows the ricotta-based sauce a chance to shine because the spinach isn’t soaking up any of the liquid. The result is a rich and creamy sauce whose flavor comes through with every bite. I know there are many gnocchi lovers out there who order the gnocchi on every menu they see. If that’s you, you’ll be happy to taste something a little different that still lives up to the expectations.

If you walked in the door of Lutali with a more protein-based meal on your mind, look no further than the Tuna Balsamic Steak. Served on a bed of mashed potatoes, this tuna steak is cooked nicely and topped with a mix of mushrooms in a balsamic sauce. The component that really makes this plate come together is the balsamic. As you probably know, balsamic pairs very well with mushrooms. But when you add the mushroom flavor to the balsamic, you get a great marinade for the tuna steak and a nice gravy for the mashed potatoes. The potatoes are good on their own as this is a dairy restaurant where they can use real butter and cream. But the added kick of the balsamic gravy is still appreciated. I’m not always a fan of tuna steaks, but this one impressed me because the combination was perfect. Getting a piece of tuna and a mushroom on your fork and dipping it into some mashed potatoes? Sign me up.

Tuna balsamic steak

We wouldn’t be fully taking advantage of the dairyness of a restaurant if we didn’t order dessert. And Lutali wouldn’t be fully taking advantage of the dairyness of their Italian restaurant if they didn’t make Tiramisu. We all know that tiramisu is so popular that it’s on the dessert menu of many fleishig restaurants despite that meaning that it can’t be made in the traditional way. At Lutali, you can get some tiramisu the way they make it in Italy. The texture is perfectly soft as the ladyfingers have soaked up just enough coffee flavor to soften them and provide that signature taste, the cream has that hint of dairy flavor as the mascarpone shines through just a bit, and the cocoa powder is just right to provide the most crucial ingredient in any dessert … chocolate. It’s so light and fluffy that nobody will think twice about you devouring the whole piece. But when you think about ordering another, maybe listen to your doctor and ask for the check.

Lutali is the kind of place that makes you feel at home. In a way, that makes it the perfect place to eat when you go out if you aren’t looking for some big fancy dinner. Go there, sit, relax, enjoy the company you’re with and savor the food on your plate.

Spinach ricotta gnocchi

We need more places like Lutali.

Dairy – Italian – Waiter Service

Sunday-Thursday: 1-10 p.m.

Saturday: 8 p.m.-12 a.m.

(718) 551-5390

1111 Ave. K, Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY 11230

Chizuk Hadas Kashrus –

Rav Dovid Gornish


Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].

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