Phillip Gulis is creating a rustic Italian menu at the Powell spot.

It's back to the basics at Luce.

The Italian restaurant in Powell seeks to return to its rustic Italian roots under the guidance of Phillip Gulis, the new executive chef.

"I think this place sort of had an identity crisis," said Gulis, now a contributor to Food & Wine.

Gulis was installed as the new chef three months ago, when Alex Rodriguez sold the restaurant back to brothers Mike and Johnny Ciotola, who founded the restaurant with partners Randy Turturice at 3499 Market St.

Rodriguez, an accomplished chef, brought a Latin flavor to many of the existing dishes while creating his own format.

But the spring menu, to be released after Mother's Day, will show off influences of Italy. For example, the tuna conserva salad with Bibb lettuce with hardboiled egg, red onions and cannellini beans, and a tonnato dressing.

Yet, some things will remain largely untouched, Gulis said, such as the pizzas, small plates and a few of the entrees, such as the popular lasagna.

But Gulis won't neglect things he believes should be made from scratch, such as demi glaces and stocks.

"It enables our food to be lighter," he said, noting that rich, cream-based sauces won't be a staple of the menu.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, he also learned the value of California cuisine. Gulis was an apprentice at the acclaimed Tra Vigne in St. Helena. He also has a fine-dining background, working locally for Handke's Cuisine, the former Brewery District destination, and at M in Miranova.

As 30, he's pleased to have his first executive chef gig.

"This is the first time I've had this much control over a menu," he said.