Two things: 1) I LOVE Lupa, go there often, and could probably eat there every day (and, on occasion, have even eaten there TWICE in one day) and 2) I'm NOT a restaurant complainer, and I always make a point to be unfailingly un-difficult. That said, a friend & I had distressingly bad service at Lupa last night for the first time ever...we had a reservation but were seated not only in the front room (despite the fact that the front room is reserved for walk-ins & there were open tables in the back, though that's not a problem in itself, as the front room is fine), but in the worst seat in the house, an impromptu 2-top yanked from the against-the-window 4-top, right next to the front door, with the rained-on masses bumping into and dripping on us as they entered...when I asked if we could be sat at any of the other open tables in the room (never mind in the back room, where reservations are supposed to go), the maitre d' said, "um, we're seating other people there." Mmm, thanks. 20 minutes later, after finally asking a busser, we got a waiter, who came over and said: "Yeah?" I've always found the service at Lupa to be exceptional, so this was bewildering, especially because it was NOT particularly crowded (for Lupa, at least).
As for the food...we got the off-menu affettato, an assortment of their house cured meats, including testa (NOT their short-lived rebel-without-a-cause octopus 'testa'), mortadella, prosciutto, soppressata, and a dry sausage, as well as the citrus-cured sardines over cracked wheat, we split the bucatini all'amatriciana, and for entrees, the oxtail and baccala. The meats were fantastic as always, if a LITTLE pricey at $13, and the sardines nicely fishy & meaty. That bucatini is fantastic, a perfectly-balalnced sauce of roasted tomatoes, sweet onions, pecorino, and guanciale. The baccala is the fried fish of your dreams, on a lemon mayonnaise and topped with a cherry tomato & italian parsley salad, and the oxtails--you want "unfathomable depth," Jim, skip Charles's and grab these. The most tender oxtail you'll find, in a sauce so intensely reduced it takes on an almost caramel-like character. Oh, and a nicely charred & buttery cauliflower side dish.