I finally got my butt to Lupa, one of my husband’s go-to restaurants in New York City. It’s a Mario Batali establishment; I’ve heard it is his favorite. It’s a casual and cozy Roman-style trattoria that puts food above everything else.
Choosing a bottle of wine was a major undertaking, as the wine list is practically a book. Our server sent over their wine advisor, a title I find less intimidating and more down-to-earth than “sommelier.” He pleasantly asked us what wines we liked, what our price point was, etc., and then recommended a Barbera which turned out to be perfect.
My friend Elaine and I decided to share several items on the menu, which is really the way to go at a restaurant where everything on the menu sounds tantalizing. I love it even more when they split it up for you onto two plates.
We started with the Escarole, Walnut, Red Onion & Pecorino salad. Light and flavorful. Primi was Batali’s famous Spaghetti alla Carbonara, which did not disappoint. I often make this at home, using Ruth Reichl’s recipe; it’s quick and easy, with ingredients I usually have on hand. But I had to try Batali’s version, which I’ve seen him make on Martha Stewart Living. The fresh pasta, Parmeggiano-Reggiano and house-made guanciale bring the dish to another level, and we savored every rich, gooey bite.
For the Secondi we went with the day’s special dish, Crispy Duck Agrodulce. Topped with grilled apples, radicchio and some other bitter greens, the contrast of flavors and textures really hit the spot. The duck was perfectly cooked and just so, so good.
Of course we had dessert. Duh! The Lupa Tartufo tastes like something little chubby Putti made in heaven, just for me. A ball of hazelnut gelato covered in chocolate and crushed biscotti, sitting in a pool of dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts. Holy mother of god. Somehow they serve it at a perfect temperature, because the gelato is still frozen but easily gives way when you poke it with your spoon. It is the size of a huge, huge golf ball, so it is too big to stuff into your mouth all at once.
And that was my first, but definitely not last, meal at Lupa.