With homemade pasta and wood-fired pizza made using only imported Italian flour (and a gluten-free option), you get to appreciate the real Italian food experience at Lupa. Relish on antipasti such as whole baked camembert wrapped in Parma ham, meatballs, Falkland calamari or the Rotolo of spinach ricotta and mushrooms as a vegan option.
Speciality pasta includes the pretty looking gnocchi Fantasia, porcini panzerotti or the vegetarian butternut and ricotta ravioli. You can choose a variety of sauces to go with your type of pasta. Red meat dishes include lamb shank and steak, and there are sea food variations. While the veal is certainly juicy, the veal marsala – crumbed veal escalopes with a mushroom, cream and Marsala wine sauce – is of poor presentation quality and lacks finesse.
End on the lovely chocolate-and-caramel fondant with a salted caramel centre and vanilla ice cream.
A cleverly designed wine list that considers value, quality and taste. There’s also a small selection of craft beers and an exciting variety of cocktails.
Professional and prompt.
There’s a warmth about Lupa that is accentuated by the brown woody tone of its décor juxtaposed with hints of colour. Pictures of Italian showbiz legends on one corner of the wall adds to its classic Italian theme. The open windows allow passers-by a chance to peek into the relaxed dining vibe.
A neighbourly Italian lunch or dinner.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
Such great, friendly service. I had a wonderfully flavourful Spaghetti and Meatballs dish with what must be the best vanilla milkshake in Durban.
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"!
The Fay Way
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
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
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.