September 11, 2006
A Body Builder's Kind of Salad

In today's Sacramento Bee, the political column The Buzz notes that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lately has been favoring Lucca Restaurant & Bar over his original favorite Sacramento dining destination, Esquire Grill. This could be because Randy Paragary, whose restaurant empire includes Esquire Grill, threw a big-check shindig at his house for his old pal Phil Angelides, the governor's Democratic opponent in this fall's gubernatorial election, speculates The Buzz.

Here's another possible explanation for the governor's change of heart, or stomach, involving greens of a different sort: The Lucca lunch menu includes "the governor's special salad," a heady mix of applewood-smoked bacon, spicy sausage, cherry tomatoes and mixed greens tossed with a Gorgonzola vinaigrette ($10.95). Talk about a bipartisan mix of richness and wholesomeness.

The governor's salad is a hybrid spin-off of two other Lucca dishes Schwarzenegger grew fond of over the past couple of years - the restaurant's version of the classic Cobb salad and a pasta dish of mushroom papperdelle with spicy sausage. After Schwarzenegger asked owner Terri Gilliland if he could have some of the sausage on the Cobb salad, she and the restaurant's cooks went to work on creating a salad that featured the sausage along with a few of the governor's other favorite items.

There's nothing like it on the menu at Esquire Grill, but there may be one of these days.

In other news at Lucca, Gene Moana, who'd been the restaurant's executive chef since the place opened more than three years ago, has resigned to return to Monterey. Ian MacBride, most recently a sous chef at Spataro Restaurant & Bar, is Lucca's new executive chef.

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