This is the first of a new category of reviews here at Mas to Millers, focusing on vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Brian and Kelly – a husband and wife vegan superstar team – are our resident experts, but there will be posts from a variety of contributors. If you have any suggestions or requests, please leave a comment or email us!

Mixed green salad at da Luca restaurant and wine bar in Crozet, VAHaving grown a little bored with all of our usual choices in town, we recently made the trek out to Old Trail, near Crozet, to try da Luca. The restaurant’s website had us at “wine bar”, but seeing “Vegan Friendly” on their Urbanspoon page enticed us even further. For a wine bar, we felt like their wine list was a tad on the small side. However, they do make a good effort to feature several local and regional wines.

We were extremely impressed with the service. The staff was warm and friendly and quite accommodating when we asked about vegan options.  Sadly, there were few.  We were unable to eat either of the two daily soups, and out of the five entrees only one could be made vegan. All four sandwiches were meat based, and we were able to order only three of the tapas options.

They were able to deliver with a mixed green salad.  We were quite excited to see almond hummus and grilled pita on the menu, but unfortunately it left us wanting more.  More flavor, to be exact.  The hummus was good, just not exciting at all. It was bland, missing garlic and other flavors. It was a healthy portion though. The pita chips were warm and delicious, if a tad oily.

What did we love?  Citrus marinated olives.  Not only did they serve up a large portion but what a genius idea!  The flavor was great, and totally unexpected. Another kudo for da Luca was the mushroom risotto.  This was offered on the entree menu with ribs, which of course we did not order.  One thing you quickly learn ordering vegan or vegetarian in restaurants is that the $15 entree ordered without any meat typically still costs you $15 (a major nuisance).  Not so here. Our waitress charged us a mere $5 for a healthy side of risotto.  What a rare find.  The risotto was cooked perfectly and the flavor was great – a perfect combination of mushroom and garlic.

If any readers are finding themselves asking “Is that all they ate?”, the answer is yes. Our choices at this “Vegan Friendly” spot were so limited that we didn’t have much to work with.  What they lack in options and flavor, however, they make up for in ambiance and service.  If only that hummus had a bit more zing…it may be worth the drive to Crozet.