What: Big deals on small plates packed with authentic Italian flavors.

Where: 711 Grant St., Denver

Neighborhood: Governor’s Park

When: Tuesday-Friday, 5-6:30 p.m.

Pros: Instead of offering only snack-style eats for happy hour, Luca’s selection includes happy hour-sized versions of some of its most popular dishes as well. 

Cons: The serving sizes are small (though they are totally appropriate for the price tag). If you’re heading to happy hour with a meal-sized hunger, be ready to order 3-4 plates for a more filling experience. 

Fresh pasta, luscious sauces, creamy cheese…there’s a lot to love about authentic Italian eats. At Luca’s new happy hour, you can indulge in all of your Italian cravings thanks to a selection of small plates priced much lower than a jaunt to Italy.

Everyone deserves a nice Italian night out. But if you want to treat yourself on a budget, this happy hour is for you.  Classic flavors created with care, available in in portions that let you indulge without any guilt.  So order that second glass of wine and lets dig in.

History

Luca 069

All photos by Lindsey Bartlett

 

Luca’s owner, Denver chef and restaurateur Frank Bonnano, is a master of creating Denver favorites. To date, his Bonnano Concepts has opened 11 of Denver’s most popular places to grab eats and drinks including Mizuna, Bones, Osteria Marco, Salt & Grinder, and Vesper Lounge — among others.

When Luca opened 12 years ago in the city’s Governor’s Park neighborhood, its concept was rooted in personal history. The restaurant, named after Bonnano’s son, is inspired by its owner’s family and upbringing and reflects the kind of cooking he grew up with: authentic flavors meant to bring people together.  It’s that care and connection that still shows in the food at Luca today.

The Food

“It is the perfect example of Luca’s ability to deliver delicious and completely unpretentious Italian classics.”

Luca

Each dish offered on the happy hour menu is a classic done right, and with every food item priced at only $5-$7, it’s tempting to just order them all. For an ideal start to your meal, go for the simple and creamy Burrata ($6) and the Chef’s Salumi Plate ($7) filled with house cured meats. Add a glass of house red, white or prosecco ($5) and you’ve got a satisfying start to your evening for under $20.

What makes Luca’s happy hour special, though, is that you get the chance to sample some of its most popular pasta courses for a steal. Pastas are made fresh daily in house, and each dish offers simple but spot-on flavors. One must-try item is the rich Pappardelle Bolognese ($6) with its deeply flavored meat ragu. The Carbonara ($6), made with bits of smoked pancetta and strands of capellini coated lightly in rich egg yolk, is a perfect example of Luca’s ability to deliver delicious and completely unpretentious Italian classics.

The Booze

Luca's house made pasta paired with a Negroni make for an excellent happy hour.

Luca’s house made pasta paired with a Negroni make for an excellent happy hour.

Although the $5 glasses of house wine are an ideal accompaniment to any of Luca’s happy hour eats, they also offer specials on three other drink options. The Negroni ($5), a classic cocktail which has had a major comeback in the last year, is made here with Leopolds Gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. For a lighter option, go for the Aperol Spritz ($5), perfect for the warm spring days we’ve been enjoying. You can also score a Moretti (an Italian beer) for just $3.

All photos by Lindsey Bartlett

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