Still continuing the reviews on restaurants I started earlier this (last?) week.
Ive always wanted to try Lupa. However, since most of my trips to NY are impromptu events, Ive tried calling only to hear that I could either get a table at 5:30, or sometimes 10 or later. But! This time, we had a meeting in SoHo that was over at 5, and the ballet didnt start until 8.. so, a couple of friends and I headed over to Lupa, hoping that it wasnt busy at this hour on a Wednesday night.
We were the first ones there when we got there around 5:30. I actually felt a little bad all the waiters and bartenders were gathered at the bar, chatting, and we interrupted them. Oh well. We decided to sit at the bar and get some nibbles and drinks there. I started with the restaurants version of the sidecar, which was made with limoncello (made in house from Meyer lemons, I was told) along with other ingredients. It was very good oh, but one friend ordered the I dont remember what its called, the aranciata? Its not that, but similar in spelling. It was made with fresh-squeezed clementine juice, vodka (I think).. and a touch of aged balsamic vinegar (along with something else). It was amazing. Fruity, but not overly sweet nor cloying, and eminently drinkable. I might have had a couple more of these over the course of the night.
We started with a bowl of the minestrone soup, the escarole salad, and the croquetas (a daily special). Wow. Just wow. Everything was just amazing. I cant remember what was in the croquetas I want to say leeks, proscuitto, and other stuff. Lightly fried, they were not greasy at all. I also had some of the salad, which was elegant in its simplicity. I only had a bite of the minestrone, but the friend who ordered that couldnt praise it enough.
As an entrée Id wanted the bucatini allAmatriciana, as there is a similar dish at Angelini Osteria back in LA that is my hands-down favourite dish to order in an Italian restaurant. But, there was a daily special of orrechietti (sp?) with.. Im sorry, I cant remember. It might have been a wild mushroom ragu. I just remember that it sounded so good that my friend and I split it instead of my ordering the bucatini (someday, I will return and have it). And it was indeed a splendid dish. We fought over the last bite.
For dessert, we got the panna cotta with macerated apricots. This was by far the best panna cotta Ive had in recent history. Dense and creamy without being heavy, the apricots also added a nice touch. I enjoyed it with a glass of some amaro (the cio ciara, I believe) that the bartender selected which complimented the dish nicely.
The bartender was great. I wish I had remembered to get her name. She was very knowledgeable about everything on the menu, and was able to answer all our nitpicky questions. And even though it was a Wednesday night, by the time we left around 7:30, the restaurant was packed. I see why its so popular this was one of the better meals Ive had in a long time. And, Im glad that it met my high expectations. Im always sad when Ive really been looking forward to a restaurant only to be disappointed with the dining experience. Id return anytime.
The tab came to around $100 (total) before tip, for 3 appetizers, 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 4 or 5 martinis and 2 digestifs (It would have been half that had we not ordered so much to drink. It's a little mollifying when your drink bill is half of the total). I want need to come back for the bucatini and to try some of the house-cured meats. My next trip, definitely.