Lupino, or 'little wolf' in Italian, is a relatively new addition to Melbourne's dining scene. It is the new venture by the owners of Becco, so I was expecting a good old Italian fare.
The atmosphere at Lupino is pretty casual and relaxed. Service was quick, efficient and unobtrusive, but not too formal. I felt they've nailed the bistro style on the head.
The menu is minute yet quite varied. There are good meat and vegetarian options for entrée and main and a number of dishes to share.
We started with a fine crust rosemary and garlic pizza served with chilli oil. Crispy and well seasoned.
Garlic and rosemary pizza ($14)
I have to say I didn't really like the look of the arancini balls when they came to the table. They were really dark and looked overcooked. My impression changed as soon as I had a bite. The rice was perfectly cooked and moist. I really liked the gooey, stringy cheese you got with each bite.
Arancini balls ($3.50 each)
Next starter was a summer salad of grilled peaches served with prosciutto, white cheese, balsamic reduction and basil. A refreshing combination of sweet and sour.
My favourite entrée was the white anchovies marinated with fennel. It was fresh, tangy and really flavoursome. Lots of fennel, olive oil and lemon juice was a perfect match for the salty anchovies.
White anchovies marinated with fennel ($9)
After being so hyped up by our entrees, the mains were a bit of a disappointment. Hubby's gnocchi gorgozola was pretty bland. The gnocchi itself was cooked to perfection, but pungent, strong taste I was expecting from a gorgozola sauce just wasn't there.
Gnocchi gorgonzola ($24)
I can say the same about my dish of pasta and seafood. The fresh taglierini was right on the spot, the prawns were really well cooked, but the sauce lacked the richness I like so much in a seafood-based broth. Suck a stark contrast from the anchovies in terms of flavour.
Seafood taglierini with mussels and prawns ($29)
It's hard to give my verdict on this one. Lupino certainly gets a tick for atmosphere, service and food as far as starters go. My suggestion, based on tonight's meal, is to maybe just order a few entrees to share and then go straight to dessert.