Lupa, 170 Thomson Street, Soho Village, New York
Step into Luca and you walk into the epitome of a New York family restaurant. Cosily placed tables, quirky pictures, crisp white linen, glasses shining so bright you hardly need the lightbulbs, staff who look like they really want to see you and feed you. Nothing was a problem.
The clientele appear to be as eclectic as the pictures – a mix of academics, local Bohemian artists, and designer bedecked ladies and visitors who have been given the nod to eat here. The menu is Italian with a twist in every dish.
Our starters had us off to a good start. My Sassy companion opted for beet salad with pistachio and ricotta and which was a beautiful match of crunchy and soft, sweet and bitter. Just the right amount to get the juices flowing. Mine was a plate of soft yet bitey roasted cauliflower with pine nuts and currents. Flavours blended into beauty.
Entrees were well sized and avoided the all-too-familiar plate loading found in so many New York eateries. My fish of the day was ocean fresh and perfectly presented with well cooked vegetables. But my companions dish was the real steal. When she opted for ricotta gnocchi with Italian sausage and fennel I was expecting the classic stomach-weighting blobs. Oh no. Instead she had a dish of cloud-light gnocchi balanced with the bite of robust sausage and a sauce any Italian mother would list as a family heirloom. Absolutely gorgeous.
Dessert would just have been greedy, but the list shows they are not only light but so interesting.
The wine list was varied and practical advice on hand. We just had to describe the tastes we liked and the right wine as produced. Again, nothing was on ceremony and we were given a good taste before we bought.
Sassy rating 9/10. This is a place to eat with friends but you would feel equally comfortable at a table for one. The atmosphere is warm, staff friendly, and the food is soooo damn good!