Tucked away in the neighbourhood of trendy Yaletown stands an ‘Italian’ gem that is truly a taste bud-awakening experience. Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca opens the doors to its cozy establishment to Vancouverites, transient tourists and foodies. If the words home sweet home (or casa dolce casa) were to hang over any restaurant in Vancouver, Lupo is the place you would find them. Guests dining at this newly renovated heritage house may feel as though they are sharing a meal in their very own Italian villa. Known previously as Villa del Lupo, this thriving restaurant continues to broaden its guests’ horizons in the areas of fine dining and modern Italian cuisine.
You sense the old-world Italian ambiance as you sample wines from Sardegna, Campania, Sicily and Tuscany, as well as other beautiful regions of classic Italy. Lupo also has its fair share of enticing red and white wines from California, Argentina, British Columbia and even New Zealand. They also offer a delicious selection of sparkling and rose wines, such as Prosecco from Veneto and Rosie of Joie Farm from right here in British Columbia. Dessert wines and beer are also included on the menu. Sample Grappa Francoli, Taylor 10YR Tawny Port, and Peroni Nastro Azzurro—a famous beer brewed in the home country.
Lupo proprietor Michael Mameli keeps busy providing exceptional customer service as both Wine Director and General Manager. Every guest is treated like a special houseguest in the tradition of renowned Italian hospitality and, for the evening, becomes part of the Lupo family. Mameli emphasizes that Lupo’s menu continuously features new fresh, attractive dishes, both traditional and modern, to sample. One visit simply does not allow you to fully indulge in Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca’s offerings.
Mameli’s extensive training and knowledge of wine comes from working hands-on in his family’s vineyards as a young child. He makes sure to purchase distinct wines that can be cherished in the moment and then savoured at a later date. Wine is both Mameli’s passion and specialty, and he commits to selecting wines that enhance the flavors of every appetizer, main dish and decadent dessert created at Lupo.
Executive Chef and Proprietor Julio Gonzalez Perini, originally from Argentina, wins the hearts of his guests through his tantalizing Italian cuisine and scrumptious, eye-catching desserts. Backed by extensive training from Le Cordon Bleu and a lengthy list of professional culinary experiences, Perini continues to dazzle guests with his Italy-inspired culinary surprises. He also dedicates time to visit with his guests to make sure that they are 100-percent satisfied with their experience. Perini’s motto is ‘Do it well or don’t do it.’ Mameli and Perini make the perfect restaurateur team.
A Magical Evening
When we were approached by our exceptional Maître d’, Chris, we knew immediately that we were in good hands. Being welcomed with a glass of bubbly Prosecco and a personal, in-depth tour of the restaurant by Michael Mameli was the perfect start to an outstanding dining experience. Mameli also educated us on the establishment’s renovations and new design concept.
We were subsequently shown the upper level of the house, which was developed specifically to host intimate private parties, small gatherings and company events, amongst a variety of other special celebrations. Surrounding the restaurant and even in the restrooms there are carefully placed, colourful paintings that are available for purchase. Next, Mameli showed us the rather special cellar, which made a definite impression with its extensive selection of aged wines, dim lighting, low ceilings and soft music.
If you’re looking to stalk celebrities as they dine, bellow to your dining companions over loud music, and receive an impersonal welcome from the staff, Lupo is not the ideal place for you. The Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca team stretch themselves to the limit to ensure guests are completely comfortable while feasting on artistic, melt-in-your-mouth dishes.
Our menu for the evening began with an appetizer of Burratta salad on golden beet Carpaccio accompanied by a refreshing glass of Falanghina, Terredora from the Campania region of Italy. I will never forget the Burratta—four combinations of cheese, creamy and delectable with every nibble. This tasty starter was followed by our first course: the ricotta gnocchi with veal cheeks, Porcini and ‘Sugo’ di Pomodoro, which, at Mameli’s wonderful suggestion, is best paired with the rich taste of Rosso di Montalcino, Banfi, a red wine from Tuscany.
The third course was a mouthwatering plate of BC Sablefish marinated in sweet Vermouth sauce and carefully positioned on baby spinach leaves. We were pleasantly surprised when Mameli paired the delicious fish dish with an exquisite ruby-red wine called Cannonau, which comes from his home region of Sardegna. You may have been taught that all seafood dishes must be accompanied by white wine, but, much to our delight, Mameli educated us to the contrary.
The next course had us tucking into succulent lamb shank Ossobucco on spring parmesan risotto, which literally made me close my eyes to better savour every bite.
A traditional Italian dessert, a cannoli stuffed with delectable ricotta filling, polished off our sumptuous menu.
The entire evening was incredibly pleasant and inviting, and we absolutely plan to pay Lupo another visit in future. Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca is an ideal destination for an evening of exceptional service, superb Italian cuisine and a taste of true Italian hospitality.