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Lupo-report from our dinner there last night

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selena03 Apr 4, 2010 02:00 PM

We had dinner at Lupo for the first time last night (first time since it has been called Lupo) and it was exceptional. We were having trouble deciding between Cioppino's and Lupo and the fact that Cioppino's was closed for the Easter weekend made the decision, which was lucky for us because we loved it.
We shared sparkling water ($5.50), focaccia (5.00), and bruschetta to start (10.00). The focaccia was a freshly baked round topped with tomatoes and zucchini. It was almost like a little pizza and was great value for $. Bruschetta was done 3 ways: white bean (which we didn't have due to my allergy and they kindly doubled one of the other ones for us), garlic rapini topped with 2 prawns, and cheese and roasted red pepper. Both we tried were delicious and the red pepper w/cheese crostini was very rich but good.
For wine, we chose a beautiful barbera for $77 (sorry can't recall the name). Appetizer for my husband was the salumi (16.00), which was a very generous portion of assorted meats and condiments. He really enjoyed it. I ordered the Baby Gem Salad, which was like a tarter version of a Caesar salad with the addition of walnuts. It was a large portion for $9. I also had the special which was offered as a starter or entree size (all of their pastas are offered this way), which was a trio of tortelli filled with shrimp and crab in a red cream sauce which tasted like lobster bisque. This was the highlight of my meal. It was so rich and perfectly flavoured; it rivaled some of Cioppino's better pasta dishes on a great night! At this point we were both stuffed and had no room for dinner:). Which for myself was a full portion of mushroom risotto (21.00) and for my husband was a ricotta gnocchi w/pork cheek (20.00). Both of us were impressed with our mains but we ended up having to take it to go because we were stuffed at this point. We did however order a dessert to share because we didn't want to miss out on anything. The raspberry chocolate torte (9.00), which was like a cool creamy chocolate mousse encased in a thin dark chocolate shell, sprinkled with raspberries. I had room only for a bite and it was delicious. My husband managed to eat the rest even though he was full:). All of our dishes were fresh, delicious, and uncomplicated.

The service was impeccable. Although the restaurant is a bit more casual than it was when we last dined there (6 years ago when it was Villa Del Lupo), the service was professional, friendly, and reminded me of the type of attention and service you receive when you are dining at Le Crocodile. There is also very good value here as I enjoyed it just as much if not more than Cioppino's and the price points were excellent for the food quality received. In short, my husband and I enjoyed our experience at Lupo very much and the next time we are in the mood for Italian we will definitely be back. I would highly recommend for any type of occasion as you could dine here in jeans casually with friends or dress up for a date/night on the town.

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Villa Del Lupo Restaurant Ltd
869 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2R7, CA

Le Crocodile Restaurant
909 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z2N2, CA

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    ck1234 RE: selena03 Apr 4, 2010 05:27 PM

    Nice review! Thanks. I will put Lupo on my list next time I'm in the neighbourhood!

    1. fmed RE: selena03 Apr 4, 2010 05:43 PM

      I've heard good things about Lupo since the changes and the takeover and reincarnation by Julio Gonzalez-Perini. I haven't been in a long time (probably at least six years ago when it was Villa Del Lupo ( and run by Gonzalez-Perini )

      2 Replies
      1. re: fmed
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        selena03 RE: fmed May 3, 2010 08:19 AM

        We were supposed to eat at Vij's this past Saturday but it was a 2 and a half hour wait so we decided to head to Lupo and I had to post again because I have eaten there twice since last post and I have to say it was just as good as the first...with one exception: the desserts just get better and better. They always offer a dessert special and I seriously think that they might be the best desserts I have ever had in Vancouver....the waiter told us that the pastry chef was formerly with Thomas Haas. Not only do they look spectacular but taste just as good. My husband and I shared the chocolate cake that was on special this past Saturday and it was creamy and moist but still cake like with a crunchiness on the crust that was so addictive that I ordered one to take home. They didn't have an appropriate take out container to preserve the presentation so they gave it to me on a plate trusting I would return it one day. The previous visit was a cheesecake that was so heavenly the only thing I remember coming close to the taste of it was at a little restaurant we dined at in Florence a long time ago....

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        Vij's Restaurant
        1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

        1. re: selena03
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          betterthanbourdain RE: selena03 May 3, 2010 01:42 PM

          Thanks for the report. havent been since the relaunch. It was my go to Italian in the 90's and early 00's. Service was always great. But food was better at Cioppino's which is my current high end Italian. The setting at Lupo is more romantic where as Cioppino's is more business centered
          Will have to visit Lupo to experience the improvements. Thanks..

      2. i
        islandgirl RE: selena03 May 10, 2010 12:09 PM

        I wanted to add a review of our experience at Lupo this past weekend. We were equally impressed with this restaurant and will definately be back soon.

        Ambience: This is a lovely restaurant located in an old house. Many of the architectural features have been retained and there are several different "rooms" where you can sit which creates a very intimate feeling. As the above reviewer noted this restaurant would be suitable for a casual dinner in nice jeans or for a more dressed up occasion.

        Service: the service was wonderful, friendly and prfoessional and very knowledgable about the food, wine, etc. I noticed our server was very good at gauging his audience and the various tables and adjusted his style accordingly (more or less detailed descriptions of the food, making suggestions or not, etc).

        Wine: There is a very well curated selection of wines with an emphasis on Italian and BC bottles at a good variety of price points. There are also about 20 whites and 20 reds available by the taste (2 oz), glass (6 oz) or bottle. There is also an option for wine flights (red or white/ Italian or BC) which was provides 3 taste sized glasses.

        Food: The real reason to dine at Lupo though, IMO, was the food. The menu is designed so you can mix & match and share food with the table, or order your own meal. I started with the arugula and orange salad which was a huge portion for $9. Well dressed and seasoned. I then had the Grilled Polenta and Wild Mushrooms which comes with a soft poached egg. This was a lovely dish although it wasn't really big enough for sharing. I also had the spaghettini pomodoro. This dish encapsulated for me the talent in Lupo's kitchen. This is such a simple dish but it was perfectly executed. My husband had the foccacia which was a large, round bread topped with zucchini and tomatoes for $5. Delicious! And then he had the beef tenderloin with morel mushrooms which was the special that evening. Again, perfectly presented and delicious.

        We finished off with two of the best espressos we've had outside of Italy. No room for dessert this time but the selection looked good. We'll be back for sure.

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        Villa Del Lupo Restaurant Ltd
        , Vancouver, BC V5Y, CA

        4 Replies
        1. re: islandgirl
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          ck1234 RE: islandgirl May 10, 2010 12:25 PM

          Well that settles it, I am going here the next time I go out for dinner! Thank you for the great report too!

          1. re: ck1234
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            selena03 RE: ck1234 May 10, 2010 02:59 PM

            that was a great report; Islandgirl is spot on about the pomodoro....can't wait to hear about your experience there when you try it-that has got be my new favourite in town. I was thinking about going there for Mother's Day but think going there every week would be a little much LOL:)!

            1. re: selena03
              grayelf RE: selena03 Sep 5, 2010 04:11 PM

              We decided to try Lupo for our 10th anniversary celebration on Friday. Very positive, this one is on the short list for Italian in Vancouver along with La Buca and Cioppino's.

              We had a 7:45 reservation and were seated immediately at a four top in the front of the back room (there is a porch, a front room and a back room on the main floor). I wasn't in love with the table and it got worse as the party of five across from us was rather raucous. After an hour, I asked if we could move and we were relocated to a two-top in the front room which was infinitely better.

              The restaurant hasn't changed much since it was Villa del Lupo, except that the walls are all white, there is more modern artwork and I believe some of the light fixtures have been replaced. You are eating in a house, which I like, but it does mean there are some tables that you want to avoid. When booking, I'd ask for the porch or front room in future.

              On to the food (which is of course the most important thing): I had a Venetian Sunrise (prosecco, lemon juice and blood orange juice) that was tasty but struck me as overpriced at $11. SO started with a Moretti beer and moved on to a glass of pinot grigio, Mission Hill IIRC, an average to small pour at $9. There were some olives on the table that were interesting -- the dark ones appeared to have been cured with fennel and were licoricey.

              SO went for two appetizers and a half order of pasta, while I opted for the mozzarella di bufala salad ($15) followed by a full portion of the spaghettini pomodoro (also $15). He tried the special of duck liver parfait ($17) which was very much to his taste. I had a nibble and it was smooth and light. His second starter was 2 Qualicum Bay scallops on grilled polenta ($14) which was very flavourful and well executed, apart from being a bit too oily.

              My salad was hearty and delicious, excellent tomatoes of several varieties (the cherry toms were particularly good) with the added fun of some raw fresh peas. Minor quibble: could have used a little more acid in the form of additional balsamic vinegar. SO had the taglierine with mushrooms which had morels and pine mushrooms and was a hit ($17 for the half size portion which turned out to be the same size as my full portion). The pasta was very much al dente in both our dishes. My spaghettini was as good as promised by previous posters. I was impressed to be wowed by what is essentially a sauce of tomatoes, sliced garlic and basil.

              Even though we were both full by now we were seduced by the desserts. I had the panna cotta ($9) because I'm obsessed with it and have to try it whenever I see it on the menu. It was not a success, with a grainy texture and too much sweetness and vanilla flavour overpowering the delicate cream flavour. The sugar cookie and madeleines served on the side were much better.

              After a mixup where the foodrunner brought the SO a chocolate dessert and lost her mind momentarily by asking whether he wouldn't just like to try it instead (!), the tiramisu ($9) arrived which was the best version I've tried, light and ethereal without being too coffee-heavy.

              Speaking of coffee, he had a decaf cappucino ($3.50) that he declared intense, reminiscent of German coffee, but good. Two little chocolate "mignardises" arrived to finish (and finish off our tummy space!). Though there were some small glitches, this was a lovely meal with quality food in a relaxing, romantic setting (once we moved). The service was attentive and professional without being ingratiating. We had Aaron, though we did speak to Chris who is also the manager. We look forward to returning.

              The lighting was not conducive to photos but I managed to nab a few that aren't too bad...

               
               
               
               
               
               
               
              1. re: grayelf
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                selena03 RE: grayelf Sep 9, 2010 09:13 AM

                Nice report Grayelf! We took our daughter for her family birthday dinner their last night and it was a nice evening for all of us. They were very good about accommodating her allergies. I always like to mention when restaurants do this for other people that might have similar concerns.

        2. liza.calderon RE: selena03 Oct 30, 2010 10:12 PM

          I took my in-laws to dinner at Lupo last weekend, thinking that I couldn't go wrong with so many wonderful reviews. Well...there's no gentle way to express how terrible the service was. It's really too bad because the food was fantastic. We enjoyed the daily specials: a meatball appetizer with a light and savory polenta, the braised short ribs, and beef cheek parpadelle. But the service was some of the worst that I've had in Vancouver. I taker that back; it was some of the worst service I've ever had. We could hardly hear our waitress over the music and the din of nearby diners, the food runner pushed our drinks aside with the plates when she brought us our food, and we were berated for not ordering aperitifs by a waiter who was not taking care of our table. The one that really got me was when our waitress opened a new bottle of wine and served it in glasses that already had wine in them. At $100 a pop, you'd think that she would have had the courtesy to let us taste it and make sure that it was fine before it was served. It really was awful, enough that I wrote to the restaurant. Although I would liken my meal to the lovely one I had at Cioppino's, it is a shame that the chef did not have a staff that equaled the quality of the food. With as many wonderful places to dine in Vancouver as there are, you can be assured that we will not have a return visit.

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