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.