Italian cuisine is a favorite among First Coast residents, and even more so among First Coast restaurateurs given the vast number of small, local Italian restaurants within our city.
Located off of Belfort Road in a shopping center adjacent to the GATE gas station, Leci’s Italian Cafe offers a fairly traditional take on such cuisine.
The restaurant has the look and feel of a typical Italian restaurant, offering a warm and intimate dining environment. On this particular night, however, the intimate atmosphere was slightly thrown off by a large party being served buffet-style, usually a lunch-only service for Leci’s.
The shopping center in which it resides is a bit hidden, but its proximity to surrounding apartment complexes, business parks, and St. Vincent’s Medical Center provide it with plenty of opportunities for business.
The prices at Leci’s are just about on-par for any decent Italian restaurant, perhaps even being on the lower end of what one may expect. The portions for pasta dishes are fairly generous.
The menu, while extensive, seems to feature several meals that are essentially the same thing; the organization of the menu also leaves a bit to be desired.
Perhaps their most notable menu feature is their all-day happy hour, with draft beer for just $1.99 and a glass of wine or a cocktail for $4.99.
The night we attended Leci’s seemed to be a bit of an atypical night, with the rare dinner buffet going on in the background and the food perhaps being more rushed than usual as a result.
The fettuccine alfredo we sampled featured sauce that was flavorful, although it seemed a little watered down. The chicken on top, a featured add-on, was even more problematic; the first bite was rendered inedible by a particularly rough, un-chewable piece of chicken, with the other pieces tasting rather bland. We would recommend trying the fettuccine without any add-ons, as it is perfectly good on its own anyway.
Overall, Leci’s Italian Cafe provides an affordable, authentic Italian dining experience with healthy portions. While the add-ons and their kitchen’s consistency may be problem areas, we would still certainly recommend Leci’s to anyone in the Southside area in search of quality pasta.