Midtown West, Manhattan. Arguably one of the worst neighborhoods in New York City to find yourself at 6pm on a Tuesday night. Between commuters rushing into Penn Station to catch their NJ Transit train, or the groups of coworkers making their way over to happy hour, Midtown West is nothing short of a circus between the hours of 12AM and 12AM. Basically, never go there if you don't have to. I used to live in Midtown West, and to be honest, I have no fucking idea how I survived it. Every time I left my apartment building I was signing to return without a limb. The masses of people, tourists, crying children... Jesus, how did I do it man. I moved out of Midtown West back in October, however if I knew about Lugo Cucina the way that I know about Lugo Cucina now, it may have made my residency a bit more sweeter.
Attached to One Penn Plaza is where you'll find this Roman Italian restaurant cooking up Italian classics with a modern twist. Largely occupied by the suits that work in the surrounding office buildings, or folks carb-loading before heading to a Knicks game across the street, Lugo Cucina still has a charm about it that takes you back to a1960 Roman trattoria. Will you find outstanding, authentic, down to the bone "nonna's in the back making the sauce fresh everyday" kind of food here? No, but you will find delicious eats and a laid back environment for the area.
THE FOOD RUNDOWN:
We can talk all day about who has who the best meatballs in all of Manhattan, and we can also argue about the fact that nobody makes them better than your mother, but for a Midtown joint, the meatball appetizer ranks at a solid 8.5/10. Which by the way, if you haven't noticed from the photos, they're gigantic. How's that for some balls?
There's something about eggplant in that you either love it or you hate it. I have yet to meet a person that's ever said something along the lines of: "eh, take it or leave it" when it comes to eggplant. In my experience, you're either ordering the eggplant or you're not. The eggplant parmigiana dip is not to be missed, no matter what side of the "take it or leave it" fence that you're on. GET THIS. 10/10
ROASTED LEMON GARLIC CHICKEN
I've gotta say, over the years I have self-proclaimed myself as a roasted chicken expert. If could be because I don't eat any other meat besides the stuff, and chances are there will always be a roasted chicken on the menu, but I've become quite the snob over a good roasted chicken. I'm happy to report that not only was this plated beautifully, the meat was juicy, perfectly cooked, and I could of drank the jus sauce. One thing this dish lacks is the actual lemon garlic flavor that's in it's title. While still delicious, it doesn't quite ring true to its name. 7.5/10
Be still my heart, because if I say I'm a self-proclaimed roasted chicken expert, then I'm MOST DEFINITELY also a chicken parmigiana expert. Hands-down one of my favorite things on this planet, chicken parmigiana is not only an Italian staple, it's pretty much what our organs are made of. This parm was fantastic, and the mozzarella was so velvety smoothed that I wanted to wrap myself inside of it. And then eat it, of course. This was also a great sized dish, however I would have like to have seen it come with a side of pasta or vegetable, as that's how the tradition typically goes. 8/10
Overall, Lugo Cucina is a solid choice if you're looking for good Italian eats in Midtown West. Stop by here after work, before a show, when you're done shopping at Macy's, or for a quick glass of vino on their outdoor patio this summer!
Follow both Patrick & I on Instagram at @officialmelrose + @thehungryboyfriendnyc for more daily eats.