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Lucca’s moves into bigger space downtown, keeps focus small

A waitress serves patrons at Lucca's Italian restaurant in this file photo from 2009. 

Lucca’s in Helena has been named the best restaurant in Montana by Business Insider magazine.

“Lucca’s cozy dining room — which seats a mere 15 tables — creates an intimate environment for guests to enjoy Chef Hyyppa’s carefully crafted dishes,” the magazine’s website states about the Italian restaurant and its head chef Mike Hyyppa.

Business Insider reporter Emmie Martin compiled the list of best restaurants in each state by scouring reviews, local recommendations and James Beard award nominations, and referencing the magazine’s previous list of Best Restaurants in America and The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants in America. She paid “particular attention” to fine-dining establishments.

Lucca’s owner Frederick Stout said he had no idea about the recognition until a stranger dropped it in casual conversation.

“I was very surprised,” Stout said. “It was very humbling, there’s some pretty well-known restaurants and chefs on that list, and it’s also pretty humbling when you look at the other restaurants in Montana.”

Stout established Lucca’s in summer 2006 and said this is the first national recognition the restaurant has received outside of certificates from TripAdvisor. It’s really Lucca’s loyal customers, the staff and the sacrifices made by his wife and family that deserve credit for this recognition, he said.

Lucca’s atmosphere and operations probably won’t change after this, Stout said. From the start he’s tried not to compare his restaurant with others and only think about how Lucca’s can improve.

“I guess our goal is to show our guests that we care, and that we put a lot of effort and pride into our food, our service staff try to take the best care they can of everybody and everything is very personal to all of us,” Stout said.

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Alexander Deedy can be reached at 447-4081 or alexander.deedy@helenair.com

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