Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Lupa seemed liked the perfect place for a Tuesday night birthday celebration with family, especially because the weather was inclement - no surprise there this winter! - and it's right around the corner from us.

A Batali joint around the corner that we hadn't tried in the five months of living circa Thompson Street? We know. We're disappointed with ourselves too.

On a "side street" in Greenwich Village, Lupa looks low key from the outside but once you enter, it has a busy, crowded feel that's amplified by the hordes of people waiting for tables. For the most part, this frantic feel disappears when you sit down at your table. We were seated in the front room by the bar but they also have a dining room in the back that is probably a bit more relaxed and would make for a more intimate dining experience.

The loaf of bread lightly sprinkled with rosemary & sea salt was served alongside a tasty bowl of olive oil. The perfect way to get your guests into an Italian mood. We started with two bottles of wine - a red & a white.

We shared a few appetizers for the table: marinated olives, beets w/ pistachios, brussels sprouts w/ apples, & squash w/ hazelnuts. Sharing apps for the table is definitely the move at Lupa since they are served in well-portioned (not too big, not too small - a theme for the meal) bowls in the middle of the table. This allowed everyone to sample each app & then go back for seconds. Aside from the olives, the 3 "star" veggies were a major hit at the table - they tasted fresh and were complemented by flavors and textures that worked very well together.

Spaghetti Carbonara, Ricotta Gnocchi, Chicken alla Diavola, & Arctic Char with Cauliflower & Meyer Lemon: it was an all-star line-up of Italian dishes. The first thing we noticed was that the portions were not very large. I guess Italians don't like to eat a lot. Hmmm.... that's not true. Maybe it's just a Lupa thing - they want you to go with three courses.

However, the chefs at Lupa do a phenomenal job of packing a ton of flavor into their smaller-sized dishes. There were a few "ooohs" & "ahhs," a "you have to try this," and by the time we cleaned up our plates, everyone was quite satisfied. I would be remiss to say that this was the best Italian we've ever had. Jess' dad & I both agreed that we'd had better versions of our dishes elsewhere - Carbonara & Gnocchi. I will say that having a smaller portion made you appreciate each bite that much more. There's something to be said for that. And, the smaller portions turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we had enough room for dessert, which is usually not the case after eating a bowl of gnocchi or carbonara.

Despite pleading, Jess was faced with the b-day candle attention she tried desperately to avoid.

The Tartufo & dates with mascarpone provided the perfect sweet-tooth satisfaction after a fun-filled and tasty Italian meal. For a nice dinner out, Lupa doesn't break the bank and with a diverse menu filled with attractive options, we'll definitely be back.

Check it out yourselves and let us know what you think... just make sure you make your reservation 30 days out as it's tough to get a table.

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