Upon entering, I spot a customer eating chicken Marsala with mushrooms, another munching on tenderly coated fried calamari, and another about to dig into the house salad with mozzarella (they were gracious enough to let me take the picture seen above). All looked tantalizing.
I saw wonderful and fresh looking pizza pies. Among them, Luis holding a tray of 3 different kinds of Sicilian style slices…namely Feta, Bruschetta, and Fresh Mozzarella with tomato and basil. The latter will be on my list for the next visit.
Back to Lunch: Perusing the rather lengthy menu of about 100 choices…and staring at a large bin of mixed lettuces, bin of olives, bin of cucumbers, tomatoes, pizza pies, calzone’s, hero’s, soups and main dishes…I decided to ask the fellas who look very happy about what they are doing what they suggest. “The Chicken Salad” with a big smile was the response. I think it was the smile that sold me.
I then watched as they proceeded to plop into a bowl a huge handful of greens, black and/or green Sicilian olives, unwimpy slices of cucumbers and tomatoes.
They then slap the chicken on the cutting board and with a few quick chops, they cover the entire bowl of veggies with the biggest and juiciest piece of chicken (cutlet or grilled) you ever saw in your life. Luis was gracious enough to let me taste both types.
The dressing is made with garlic infused EVOO***, sherry vinegar and their own secret blend of spices that makes the salad sing!
With regard to the word “gourmet” so proudly emblazoned on their awning out front, I can say
the chicken salad, as simple as it is (sometimes the simpler the better), fits that billing.
As I’m finishing up and getting ready to leave, a young lady sits next to me with a slice of pineapple pizza and a bowl of pasta faggioli (pasta and white bean soup). “I love this place…” with that yum look in her eyes was her response to me when I asked her about the soup.
As I’m walking out of Luigi’s behind two fellows with food to go, I see them pop into their car.
I said to them “you drive here to get your lunch”?
“Yeah”, one of them says, “we come down here all the time from Harlem. The other says “the office wants chicken salads…so we come down to Luigi’s”.
Note: I’d like to thank Bolivar, Luis and Alfredo for posing with their chicken salads and pizza… and their big proud smiles. As well, I would like to thank Luis and the management of Luigi’s for their cooperation and permission to let me write about my experience in their restaurant.
I never had the opportunity to meet Luigi. Perhaps next time.
Luigi’s Gourmet Grill is located at 936 8th Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets in NYC, NY
As usual, EVOO*** = extra virgin olive oil