Venues

Lupa Osteria (Hillcrest)

Lupa Osteria (Hillcrest)
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Cost
R100 avg main meal
Ambience
Authentic culture
Food
Bakery fare, Italian, Modern
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R40

Critic's review

Tracy Gielink

Food
The menu was devised by chef Chris Black, who has made a name for his Italian food. And although this is a franchise, the kitchen executes his dishes with aplomb. Pretzel-dusted calamari, carpaccio or tomato and mozzarella risotto cakes served with zucchini fries segue into mains. Pizzas – made with imported flour and cooked in the wood-fired oven – are exemplary and also come in a gluten-free version. Toppings range from Parma ham, Philly cream cheese and rocket to chorizo, feta, peppadews, chilli and avocado. Pasta is homemade (select a sauce to pair with your choice of pasta) and a trademark dish is the salsicce with Italian fennel sausages, bacon, mushrooms, Chianti and cream. Meaty dishes include veal Marsala and lamb shank, while seafood brings kingklip roasted in the pizza oven with lemon, capers, white wine and garlic. Decadent dessert options include the Nutella pizza with ice cream, as well as homemade tiramisu and a salted popcorn sundae.

Drinks
A compact but well considered wine list is presented per varietal and provides a balance between value and quality. There’s a small selection of Italian wines and bubblies, plus a range of craft beers.

Service
Professional waiters are prompt, friendly and industrious, giving the right amount of attention without being intrusive. The kitchen processes orders very efficiently.

Ambience
Lupa successfully combines the necessary warmth expected of a neighbourhood eatery with playful contemporary touches. Blonde and almond wood floors and tables (that have no formal dressing) are juxtaposed with orange and white metal chairs and exposed brick. The front opens up with large windows that allow local passers-by to peer inquisitively into the perpetually busy restaurant.

And…
The two-course kids’ menu with a cold drink offers good value for money.

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  • Kate Ziervogel

    Food
    The menu at this delightful Italian eatery charms with traditional flavours with a modern twist. With pensioners' discounts available, as well as a kiddies’ menu for R50 and a set menu for R150, Lupa is set nicely in the affordable range of good restaurants.

    Pizza bases are light and thin based. A standout is the Sarah pizza with mozzarella, prosciutto, Philadelphia cream cheese and fresh rocket. The pastas are freshly made and, though not strictly al dente, make for a most delicious and filling dish. Treat yourself to the fillet escalope with mushroom sauce and a creamy side of parmesan linguini. Also recommended is the antipasti platter for two, with a selection of traditional Italian cured meats, cheeses, pickles and focaccia – a nice choice for a starter to share.

    Drinks
    They offer a superb wine selection, including great Champagnes and imported Italian wines such as Bastianich. Wines by the glass start from R25, while certain wines are available in medium and large carafes.

    Service
    Service is welcoming, dedicated, professional and friendly. Mostly it is very efficient, but the tempo can hit a bit of a snag when the dinner service heats up, so if you’re there at peak times, be prepared to possibly wait a bit.

    Ambience
    It’s a big, open-plan restaurant with side-by-side booth seating. The vibrant atmosphere makes it a great place for a social evening, with a bar and tapas area, too. The seating does not offer much in the way of privacy, though, and given the quite noisy cafeteria vibe, Lupa might not be the best option for a quiet or romantic dinner.

    And… 
    The quality of the pasta and pizza bases here is outstanding – helped no doubt by the use of imported 00 Italian flour and locally sourced organic eggs.

    (July 2014)

  • This vibey Italian spot is owned by the guys from Bellevue Café. Delve into starters like crispy risotto cakes stuffed with sausage, mozzarella and sage, or heart-warming meatballs made with both ground beef and pork and roasted in a tomato sauce in the pizza oven. Classic, simple pizza flavours are represented with buffalo mozzarella, or try a pizza bianca (sans tomato base) with Brussels sprouts, mozzarella, garlic, bacon and pecorino. Pasta is made with an imported machine; choose from linguine, spaghetti or penne (available gluten-free) and top them with sauces ranging from puttanesca to Alfredo, amatriciana or salsicce. The team has the enthusiasm of youth, backed up with serious menu knowledge and a good understanding of service nuances. (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    This vibey Italian spot owned by Bellevue Cafe's Chris Black and Guy Cluver opened up in March 2012 and has quickly became a local favourite. Delve into starters like crispy risotto cakes stuffed with sausage, mozzarella and sage, or heart-warming meatballs made with both ground beef and pork and roasted in a tomato sauce in the pizza oven. The two wood-fired ovens produce pizzas and baked main courses. One of them burns at a lower temperature to coerce the best flavours from linefish done with lemon, capers, white wine and butter or wood-fired chicken, and overnight it slowly nurses flavourful lamb shanks.The pizza dough has a 24-hour ferment and bases are beautifully light.Classic, simplistic pizza flavours are represented with buffalo mozzarella, or try a bianco pizza sans tomato base with brussel sprouts, mozzarella, garlic, bacon and pecorino. When it’s on special, pounce on the calzone that’s filled with mushrooms, oozing gorgonzola and draped with an intensely flavourful Parma ham. Pasta is made with an imported machine. Simply choose from linguine, spaghetti, penne (or gnocchi), which are also available in gluten-free options, and then team them up with sauces ranging from puttanesca to Alfredo, amatriciana or salsicce done with Italian fennel sausage, bacon, chianti, cream and herby breadcrumbs. For dessert, tuck into a bittersweet chocolate budino with espresso caramel, honey-swirled mascarpone and flakes of Maldon salt.

    Wine
    The wine list meets osteria expectations in terms of accessibility and price but exceeds them with some quality, coveted options.

    Service
    The team has the enthusiasm of youth, backed up with serious menu knowledge and a good understanding of service nuances.

    Ambience
    Guy’s wife, Shelley, is also a business partner and has been responsible for the fashionable, functional décor. She wanted the restaurant to provide a series of discoveries: on entering, you immediately notice a bar before your foodie radar picks up the dough room with its baskets of dried pasta. Within a few steps you’ll discover the antipasti room with a state-of-the-art fire-engine-red Burkel meat slicer and, finally, the two enormous pizza ovens, before you end up in the dining area, which is a heady mix of glass, wood and metal with pops of orange. (Tracy Gielink, May 2013)

    Food
    The spotlight falls firmly on tapas. The most popular dishes have proved to be the crispy baby calamari, chicken skewers spiced with cumin and paprika, and verduras a la plancha (grilled artichoke hearts with cherry tomatoes, aubergine and mushrooms). Traditional tapas options include tortilla, paella, albondigas (meatballs), cured meats and pan-fried sardines. Specials run on a monthly basis and are seasonally inspired, so winter could bring with it a traditional garlic, chorizo and egg soup; sautéed lamb kidneys with cous cous; flans; or a raisin and ricotta empanada. The restaurant also specialises in cocas, a Catalonian flatbread similar to pizza. Cocas are unique in flavour and texture, being scented with fragrant Spanish spices like paprika, cumin and nutmeg and garnished with fresh herbs or flowers. VickyCristina’s menu offers some unusual combinations of traditional ingredients including pomegranate, fig and almonds. Traditional pizza toppings are also featured as Spain and Italy share a love for Mediterranean favourites like olives, cheese and peppers.

User reviews

  • Such great, friendly service. I had a wonderfully flavourful Spaghetti and Meatballs dish with what must be the best vanilla milkshake in Durban. Thanks guys.
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  • What a gem of a place.
    My girlfriend and I visited on a particularly rainy day.
    Struggled to find it: God knows why there are at least 3 "old main roads" in various midlands towns. Road numbers are just confused on this road.
    But SO worth it.
    The maitre d' was a star. He immediately made us feel at home.
    The waitress was a gem. Very attentive but not overly so. She kept us updated on our food delay seeing as they were really busy.
    The food: Fantastic. Best pizza I've ever had.
    The pasta with North African spices: a revelation in our mouths.
    This place is serious about their food which certainly plays homage to their wall sign:"You only live once"
    But certainly this is NOT a place that "you only eat once"!
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  • An Osteria in Italy was originally either an inexpensive or simple dining establishment. Although Lupa Osteria in Hillcrest is named for these traditional lunch rooms, the trendy leather/chrome décor pushes it out of the “bring your own flask for beer” genre and into whole other world.

    Now that I have mentioned the fact that Lupa is a really nice vibrant and trendy joint, I need to backtrack just a little and share some context with you. Earlier in the evening we decided to spend some time seeing what the city of Durban has to offer as far as early evening nightlife goes. Our google search and gps agreed that the Stables Lifestyle Night Market was a good choice. So off we went in search of “The Perfect Shawarma” and some very Durban curios. We found a bustling market with plenty of fast food stalls. Big Daddy stand boasted the best shawarma, so we gave it a try. We picked a picnic bench and sat down to a fairly tasty but not so perfect shawarma. I failed to check my seat before planting my patoody down, and only on arriving at Lupa later that evening, did I discover that I had brought a Night market picnic seat gift with me: blue bubblegum on my butt. Now that is absolutely NO way to arrive at a civilized eatery like Lupa. Fortunately for me, most of the bubblegum ended up on my car seat and I figured that if anyone was looking that closely at my derriere, they deserved to see it.

    And now back to our evening at Lupa.

    The menu at Lupa is just packed with great traditional Italian flavours while managing to escape the tired old variations we’ve all become bored with. The pizzas with fresh rocket like the Sarah may be a tad pricey, but the quality of ingredients make it a superb signature. Pizza Sarah is topped with tomato, mozzarella, parma ham, philly cream cheese and simply covered in fresh arugula leaves. The super thin base ensures that the balance of flavours is not overshadowed. I did remove some of the rocket and left just as much as I felt I wanted.

    We ordered the anti pasti platter for two to start. The runner grabbed one of the large closed tins of pomadoro that decorated the side walls and plonked it on the table in front of us; patting her pockets and looking around she said something about going to find a tin opener and disappeared into the crowd. Hubby, being the ever efficient trouble shooter that he is, whipped out his K-bar and asked me if he should help her by opening the tin before she got back. I eyeballed the tin a little and said we should perhaps err on the side of caution and let the waitress take care of it. Returning with two large flat platters in hand, the waitress promptly put the one with garlic rosemary focaccia on the table and balanced the anti pasti platter on top of the pomadoro tin. Boy was I glad we didn’t skin the lid of that tin.

    At the entrance of Lupa Osteria, they have a pasta station, not busy the night we were there, but the equipment that dotted the counter top suggests that they make their own pasta from scratch. So one order of pasta with fillet escallops and creamy mushroom sauce was necessary. The pasta was not exactly el dente, but personally I find that cooking homemade pasta can sometimes just-just fall over the el dente edge into slightly overcooked. So we weren’t too upset on that mark. The portion sizes for all the meals are more than adequate and in my opinion well worth the price tag, but I suppose your mileage may vary on that point.

    Lupa also boasts an impressive wine list that includes Italian names like Bastianich. The wine by the glass starts at R25 which is really no different from our little local hangouts. Medium and large wine carafes are also available as are a range of cocktails to suit most tastes.

    The service at Lupa is casual and definitely competent. Our server rattled off the fairly long list of specials quite well although with the decibel level in the restaurant in general being as high as it was, I did struggle to hear everything, and have to admit that I actually zoned out a bit somewhere in her soliloquy.

    The serving staff is well organized and clear on the instructions they were given. Sometimes a little over eager to remove dishes from our table, but that’s a personal preference we have, others may find the practice of snapping empty dishes away from the table even while others are still eating, incredibly efficient and necessary, in which case, kudos to them.

    Since Lupa restaurant can become incredibly busy, particularly on a weekend, service may hit a snag here and there and you may end up waiting a bit for your order. My advice, just chill and enjoy the vibe or go before the mad rush.

    At the entrance, Lupa also has a bar area with what looks to me like a tapas eating section. Another wonderful idea and looks to be a perfect spot for a business lunch.
    We definitely enjoyed our dinner at Lupa Osteria in Hillcrest and would happily recommend them, but suggest you forgo bringing the blue bubblegum with you.

    Address : Baily Centre, Old Main Road, Hillcrest
    Tel : 031 765 3059
    Opening times : Mon - Sun: 6:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Average price main course : R80-R135
    Web : www.lupa.co.za
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  • Excellent, Have been trying to eat there since it opened, but only visit the area once every 6 weeks on business. I was not disappointed, great stuff, good people. will be there again . To Chris thanks for the raviolli cutter, will use it this weekend. Go well Guys
    Capt Pete from East London
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  • Last night I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Lupa. The food and service was up to standard. I just found the rehearsed manner that the specials was said in was too long and in depth. I would have preferred a brief summary of the specials and if I had any further question then I would ask and then it could be explained.
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  • Had lunch at Lupa today and the food was superb. Loved the fillet with mushroom risotto and my fiancé also enjoyed his seafood pasta. Will be back.

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  • Such a divine restaurant. We went there for a ladies dinner and all I can say is 'wow'! I had the calamari and salad which was absolutely delicious. One of my girlfriends had this divine fillet of beef on mushroom risotto with roasted tomatoes and avo, let me tell you it is as delicious as it sounds. Will definitely go back there. Wine was also very good!

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  • What a huge disappointment. After looking forward to experiencing Lupa, our Father's Day lunch was awful. A few had the veal, which looked like it had been boiled and was totally tasteless (some said inedible). The rest of the food was very ordinary and uninspiring (a lot of which looked like the 'mass produced' variety). The service was virtually non-existent, and the venue totally cramped, with too many tables far too close together. Couldn't wait to get out of the place. Never again.

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  • An amazing resturant, awesome food, good staff and service. Best pasta/pizza place I have ever eaten at.

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  • Very impressed. All 5 of us had stunning starters, mains and dessert! The chocolate pizza was a big hit!

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  • Chris Black and Guy Cluver have yet again done an amazing job! Lupa is wonderful! Food excellent, service professional and efficient, yet relaxed. Managers are brilliant. We love the veal dishes and the meatballs are outstanding! Our children's favourite new restaurant. The only problem we have is deciding between Bellevue and Lupa now. Well done!

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  • Awesome addition to Hillcrest and really great value. I'm looking forward to eating there a lot!

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  • Prices far too cheap!

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  • Good day, I was highly disappointed with the end of my evening at Lupa Hillcrest on Friday night - 12 April 2013. I was there for the second time in a month as we were celebrating a friend's birthday. We had two tables and some of the party left early all paying! As the two tables were divided up under three bills a close call needed to be kept on the orders. I was one of the last to leave and my bill was questioned as friends had already left but they made us pay again for his meal - a veal with three Savannas (approximately R200).The manager was rude and my friend who is 8 months pregnant paid to avoid conflict. I was very happy with the food and wine but Lupa is certainly expensive in comparison to most restaurants, therefore service is a must. I would like some feedback as this is totally unacceptable. My bill alone was R1100 and there were another two, makes me wonder!

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  • The place is amazing.Their fillet steak with porcini mushrooms is amazing. Wish I could eat there every night.

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Menu

Set menu - main-updated jan 2018 lunch-updated jan 2018 wine-updated jan 2018 set_menu-updated jan 2018

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Beer served
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Vegetarian

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