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Dec 25, 2007 07:27 AM

Christmas Eve @ LUPA

My wife and I tried our new approach to holiday dining last night - eat early and eat only at those restaurants that offer their regular a la carte menu. In other words don't waste time and money on special menus that are usually underperforming and ill-paced.

Well LUPA came through with flying colors. We arrived intentionally early in order to sit at the bar and enjoy a few drinks before dinner. We arrived at around 5:00 PM and the place was packed.

At precisely 5:45 PM, our reservation time, we were seated in the rear dining room by the corner window.

For starters we ordered Brussels sprouts with shredded greens and loads of pecorino (made your mouth pucker in a good way!), a perfectly prepared baccala with potatoes & lovage (we could have eaten multiple helpings of this dish - it was terrific), and coppa cotta - this literally melted in your mouth. I think the house made meats at Lupa are among the best in town.

We then moved on to pastas and shared a perfectly al dente pasta dish with cauliflower and then the ricotta gnocchi with sausage and fennel. Both well prepared and wonderfully seasoned.

We finished by sharing a trout dish with pear and radicchio - once again, the dish was perfectly seasoned and buttery smooth - the cooked pear a perfect accompaniment.

We also had a reasonably priced Verdicchio during the meal.

But what was truly surreal was that it seemed we were in bubble surrounded by troubled waters ;-) Diners on both sides of us had the Feast of the Seven Fishes special menu and complained endlessly about small portions, no substitutions, slow and poor pacing of the courses and ill-paired wines. Truly a bizarre experience.

We ended up having a conversation with a lovely couple from Italy (she here in NYC for 10 years, he a resident of Florence). Their summation of Lupa was that it reminded them of a Spanish restaurant! And their other gem, told to us in utter secrecy, was that Romans disliked Americans.

Quite a Christmas Eve - wouldn't have missed it for anything ;-) Certainly the best holiday meal in Manhattan in ages!

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  1. Glad to hear you had a good experience.

    My wife and I went earlier in the afternoon and enjoyed the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We let ourselves be talked into the wine pairing, which was well-prepared by the comely sommelier-stress, but we asked to be topped off twice as our festive drinking outpaced our food.
    There was nothing wrong with the pace of the food or its quality at all.
    Everything was delicious. Nothing was spectacular except maybe the stew (the pesce spada was pretty damn good, too, though).
    After a couple of add-ons like coffee and a couple of bellinis, tax and tip, I wound up spending about $340.

    Yup. It was a tough one.

    The meal itself was very good. Just the price was a killer.

    It was especially tough considering we'd just spent the same amount two days earlier at Blue Hill which was an absolute culinary experience and a flawless meal.

    Merry Christmas.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. whoa. of all the restaurants in ny...and all the food they can't easily get...why would romans go to LUPA? would you go to some american equivilent in rome? so take their opinions with a grain of salt.

        i've been to LUPAS feast of the seven fishes a couple times. it's ok, nice, not outstanding or anything, yes year in and out some complain, but for us most certainly not worth complaints. i'd do it again. glad you enjoyed yourselves.