Lupa is a loud, dimly-lit restaurant. The back room is much quieter, so if that’s an issue, reserve a table there. Located in the SoHo section of New York City that has evolved from being an arty area to a trendy shopping area; Lupa fits in well. There is food service at the bar which maybe seats 12, plus there are two tables outside.
Our table service was great. We had a knowledgeable and peppy server. The sommelier was underspoken but made great suggestions, choosing less expensive choices than we would have made and we were very happy with them. He has a soft manner.
With all the hype, we expected that Lupa was somewhat overrated. To our pleasant surprise we really enjoyed all aspects of the meal and would return in a heartbeat. The pesce/antipasti/charcuterie are unusual for the American palate but beautifully made, with a vibrancy in construction and good quality ingredients that shine through. Both of the entrees we ordered were specials and turned out to be excellent choices.
Carne: Affetati Piccolo $18:
Prosciutto Di Parma Gran Riserva (18 months) plus these fiur that are house-made - Testa, Coppa Cotta, Salumi and Lingua
The Testa tasted like butter and was divine. Jack loved the salumi. Served in a little dish, the Lingua was served with slivered onions in a vinaigrette and was quite heavenly.
Pesce: Frutti Di Mare $25:
Baccala with Olives & Capers
Market Fish Scabece
Sardines with Fennel & Saffron
Octopus in Panissa
Tuna & Cannellini
An interesting assortment of Lupa house-made marine salads beautifully presented in a sectioned dish. Alone I could critique each but ingredients not picked apart the collection made for a wonderful beginning to a dinner or as part of a cold dinner. True that the dressing masked the fish to an extent – but the flavors really sang – especially the saffron with the sardines and pine nuts. The octopus may have been lost in the mayonnaise but at the same time the octopus became a different creature – almost unrecognizable as octopus. Memorable was the Tuna with Cannellini beans and the big raisins - a few with stems still attached.
Orrechetti with ground pork sausage and greens $22
The handmade pasta really made the grade here as this is a simple, rustic dish requiring all three ingredients to star, and they did. Delicious and memorable.
Flash Fried Lamb Chops (from Vermont Organic)
Long bone chops. Amazing flavor. Highly recommended. Jack was in lamb heaven; even the bones provided good chewing.
Lupa Tartufo $8:
Hazelnut gelato covered with chocolate and nuts with a center of crushed biscotti and cherries This was exactly as it should be (a rarity) - subtle and well made with well crafted ingredients. Sublime.
Sorbetto – Chocolate – Light and fluffy – like like gelato. More on the milk chocolate side. Delicious as well.
Wine: The wine list is excellent. Our sommelier chose for us (both excellent values):
2002 Pietratorcia Ischia Bianco Superiore Vigne di Chignole
Nose of pee. Minerally notes with good acidity and lemon on finish. Lemons linger. Almost a buttery element to the center. Very smooth. 4-6
2003 Torre Quarto Puglia IGT Sangue BluNegroamaro is the varietal. Nose of crushed red and black cherries. Somewhat bright berry center with good acidity. Short clean finish. 3-5?
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.