Lupa - review
We went to Lupa last night for the first time. The host couldn't find my reservation but was able to once I provided my opentable.com confirmation #. We arrived just in time for our 5 PM reservation and were seated promptly in the front dining area. There is a bar and a glass walled room filled with meat slicers on one side of the room. The brick and wood decor creates a nice, relaxed neighborhood feel (see pics on www.luparestaurant.com). The front dining room is larger and more lively then the dining room in back, past the kitchen/restrooms. Our table was on the wall opposite the bar (one table away from the speaker). The music was loud at first and selection had no rhyme or reason. Someone lowered the volume and my noise concerns vanished allowing me to focus on the food.
While SO reviewed the wine list we enjoyed twice risen rosemary foccacia and olive oil.
Sardines with cracked wheat, dill and basil - delicious (reminded me of the anchovy and toasted wheat app we had at Po, Batali's first restaurant)
Octopus with ceci and sorrel - the pureed chick peas (ceci) had a mayonnaise consistency. The octopus was cooked perfectly. Even the tiny, thin tentacles were tender. Simple and fresh.
Tagliatelle with duck ragu - duck must have been cooked for hours, very satisfying.
Trout with pear and radicchio - fish was cooked perfectly (pan seared and finished in the oven?). What a combination of flavors. I was torn between ordering this and the skate with clams and rabe. Our server even told us that everyone orders the sea bass and the trout is a much better dish. May have to attempt a replication of this trout dish.
Dessert & Espresso:
Tartufo - this was good but I would probably not get it again. Our server suggested this when we were undecided between the tartufo and their panna cotta dessert (orange, bittersweet and something else I don't remember - maybe almonds?).
Apician spiced dates & marscarpone - delicious! Presentation was nice. Plates arrived with a bit of marscarpone. Dates (stuffed with almonds and warmed in honey, cinnamon, clove and maybe some wine) were poured from a small pan onto the plates.
Service was excellent. Only one table was empty and we never felt rushed. Given the value and quality of food now I know why reservations can be difficult. Our gift certificate covered all but tip.
Many thanks to hounds for their suggestions.
I dined at Lupa last weekend for the first time in several years and came away incredibly impressed. We were seated about 30-40 minutes past our 8PM reservation, but that's mostly my fault because I called around 5:30 to knock our reservation for 4 down to a reservation for 2, which meant a different table. They warned us of a possible wait on the phone, so it wasn't a big deal. Winner dishes of the evening were the winter squash salad with guanciale (dressed at the table), the fresh tagliatelle with chicken and olive ragu, and the lemon sorbet (made at Otto, we were told) but honestly everything was really good. Even with drinks at the bar and a lovely bottle of Barolo the bill was reasonable, and we've already made reservations to go back the first week of March. For what it's worth, my boyfriend said their music playlist was the best he's heard in a restaurant in years.
Agree that the food's always terrific, wine list is the bets of its class, service fine. Our only serious problem is the crowd noise when full, especially in the back room--for us, a reason to go off-hours. Music's good too, but I'd vote for I've Got a Line on You instead of Fresh Garbage.