Tastes of Tuscany
Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar Brings Authentic Dishes to Fortville
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
Simone Lucarini has dreamed of one day opening his own restaurant for as long as he can remember. Lucarini grew up in the small town of Cortona, Italy. It was in that hilltop town in the Tuscany region that Lucarini’s passion for cooking started.
His love for Italian cuisine was fostered by time spent with family and being in the kitchen with his mother.
“I always tried to cook the meals she used to make,” Lucarini says. “Some of the food we make today is from her recipes. I think she would be very proud of where I’m at today.”
In December, Lucarini’s dream came true when he officially opened Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar in Fortville. The restaurant held a soft opening Dec. 1 first and fully opened to the public a few days later.
Lucarini couldn’t be happier with the turnout so far.
“It was very busy on our first day,” he says. “It is very exciting. The community has been great. They enjoy our food. Most people love Italian food, and I think there was a demand for it here in Fortville.”
The opening marks one of the first truly authentic Italian spots to open in Fortville. The restaurant is located off Main Street right next to FoxGardin Kitchen & Ale.
It’s a prime spot to be in, and, after searching for nearly a year, Lucarini knew that Fortville was a perfect fit.
“Fortville is a nice area and up-and-coming in a lot of ways,” he says. “It’s just a peaceful town — very historic and very pretty. It’s also close to Geist and so many other surrounding Indianapolis areas.”
The restaurant is family-friendly and seats about 70 people. Upon walking in, patrons first see the beautiful wine bar at the front of the restaurant, as well as the large brick oven behind that.
Lucarini knew he wanted his menu to be unique. His travels have taken him all over the world, including Italy, France, New York and more, expanding his knowledge of the food industry and wine along the way.
When he moved to Indy in 2015, the goal was always to one day open his own restaurant. Lucarini spent several years as a chef and working at local Indy restaurants like Ambrosia and Matteo’s Ristorante Italiano. Those experiences in the restaurant industry, he says, only further prepared him for opening Cortona’s.
Cortona’s menu is unique, and that is by design. This isn’t necessarily the Italian food you are used to having at chain restaurants. All pasta entrees include house-made noodles and sauces like the Lasagna di Carne with house-made béchamel parmesan cream and meat ragu, the Pasta all Vongole with linguine pasta and fresh clams in a white wine garlic sauce, or the Pasta Bolognese — tagliatelle pasta with ragu sauce and the option of veal, beef or pork, among many other options.
All the dishes are inspired in some way by Lucarini’s upbringing, hence the name of the restaurant, a nod to his hometown of Cortona. Lucarini will also be found, most days, in the kitchen cooking up the dishes himself for patrons.
“It is a special experience,” Lucarini says. “It is very authentic food. We serve traditional Tuscan dishes. I try to use all organic produce and ingredients. This isn’t American, Italian cuisine. The wine list includes Italian and French wines. Most of the wine is from Tuscany. “I’m happy with how everything turned out,” he adds. “I like to cook. I enjoy preparing food for people and, hopefully, making them happy.”
Cortona’s Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar is located at 209 S Main St. in Fortville. They are closed on Mondays, but a lunch menu is offered from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information, visit Cortona’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Cortonas/ or give them a call at 317-747-4242.