Food & Drink

This new restaurant is bringing a taste of Italy to downtown Bradenton

Never mind arguing about whether New York or Chicago-style pizza is better.

There is a good little neighborhood argument to be had about whether New York- or New Jersey-style pizza is best.

Joining the pizza fray is Lucca’s Pizza & Wine Bar, which opened two weeks ago at 817 14th St. W. in downtown Bradenton.

“This is considered Jersey-New York pizza and it is very, very good,” chef Michael Bonsanto said. “We wanted to bring a good Italian dining experience to downtown Bradenton.”

Lucca’s, named after a northern Italian province near Pisa, is owned by Nader Youssef, who also owns Michelangelo Restaurant & Pizzeria at 2957 University Parkway.

Bonsanto is a 1986 graduate of Atlantic City Culinary College and has been cooking for 30 years. He has worked with Youssef for five years.

Pizza lovers can be emphatic in voicing their opinions about their favorite pies.

Pizza maker Matthew Metz holds a fresh-out-of-the-oven 16-inch cheese pizza at Lucca’s Pizza & Wine Bar, 817 14th St. W., Bradenton. James A. Jones Jr.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” Bonsanto said. “We have fresh and delicious pizza every day.”

So, what’s the difference between Jersey-style and New York-style pizza? And what goes into making a good one?

“Some people say it is the crust. It’s a little thicker in New York and a little thinner in Jersey. It depends on the pizzeria and it’s all about choice. You have to have good ingredients to make good pizza,” Bonsanto said.

Pizza maker Matthew Metz would offer one other intangible: “Love,” he said.

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Pizza is at the heart of the menu at Lucca’s. A 16-inch cheese pizza is listed at $13.95 and a 16-by-16-inch square, thick crust Sicilian pizza is $17.95. Pizza by the slice sells for $2.50 each.

There is also a gourmet pizza menu with 15 selections starting with Grandma’s Sicilian for $17.25 and continuing through Northern Margherita Pizza for $21.25.

But Lucca’s is more than pizza.

An abundance of heroes, chicken entrees, veal entrees. seafood, baked dishes (ziti, lasagna and ravioli) and pasta dishes are also offered, along with appetizers, soups and salads. Entrees are priced from $17.95 to $20.25. Pasta dishes start at $9.95, and eggplant dishes at $15.95. Sandwiches start at $8.95.

Rounding out the menu are dessert favorites cannoli, tiramisu and almond cake.

Lunch specials are offered from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Among them: one-half entree with salad or choice of soup for $8.95, and two slices of pizza and a soda for $5.99.

Lucca’s offers a 65-seat dining room as well as take-out and catering. Among those it serves with pizza is the nearby Motorworks Brewing.

Lucca’s Pizza & Wine Bar opened in mid-April at 817 14th St. W., Bradenton. James A. Jones Jr.

Lucca’s is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Lucca’s is closed on Sunday.

Lucca’s is located south of Eighth Avenue West, within sight of the Sunz office building.

For more information, visit or call 941-702-0705.

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