Critically acclaimed chef, restaurateur, award-winning author and purveyor of orange Crocs, Mario Batali toasted his initial foray into Hong Kong with the opening of Lupa on Thursday 12 April, 2012.
Lupa is a long-standing NYC Italian eatery renowned for simple, cheap and tasty fare. So how does the Hong Kong location compare?
Firstly, the décor at Lupa is what can be described as Italian-elegant with a lot of dark wood, tiled flooring and classy light fittings. There is a large statue of the she-wolf (Lupa is Italian for female wolf) that saved Romulus and Remus, a big, slightly disturbing statue of which greets you as you enter the restaurant. For those not up to date with ancient Roman history, Romulus and Remus founded Rome, the hub of hearty Italian food that Lupa is known for.
For a more casual dinner or a pre- or post-dinner drink, there is also La Terrazza, a beautiful spacious terrace that will no doubt draw in the masses during the warm weather nights in Hong Kong. I was shocked how large this terrace was, especially considering where the restaurant is located, literally in the heart of Central…and I expect this to be very popular with the after-work crowd.
I was a big fan of this restaurant in New York, which itself is a lower end offshoot of celebrity magnet Babbo. However, for some reason it looks as if the Hong Kong franchise is trying to go for a more fine-dining experience (perhaps exorbitant Central rents may have something to do with this decision) with much pricier menu items than its sibling restaurant in New York.
Having sampled some of the menu items at the circus like hoarding at the opening (Hong Kong people, do you have no shame when it comes to free food?!) I have to admit I was very disappointed. Everything sampled was way too over salted and nowhere near up to the standard of the albeit cheaper original. The only dish I enjoyed were the simple wood fire pizzas.
These wood fire pizzas apparently can only be ordered at the outdoor terrace, which, with its spectacular space, is fine by me!
3/F LHT Tower
31 Queens Road Central
Hong Kong Tel: +852 2796 6500