The late Matt Haley’s Lupo Italian Kitchen (formerly Lupo di Mare) in downtown Rehoboth Beach bears his signature everywhere you look. The uncluttered and open decor sports lots of white space, with well-trained servers and basic ingredients treated to a creative twist. Rehoboth’s Lupo Italian Kitchen is reminiscent of his first restaurant, Bluecoast, minus the view of Salt Pond.
Enough chit-chat. The addition of Chef Chris Parks has certainly raised the bar at Lupo Italian Kitchen. Our last 4-5 meals there have been superb. First off, try the Fried Calamari. It’s sprinkled with sea salt and served with a warm red sauce. Even at this update, Lupo’s calamari is still at the top of the list for best calamari – though it could be edged out over so slightly by the same dish at Bluecoast. When I’m with more than four people, I secretly order two “for the table” (translation: one for them, one for me). I also like the White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip (kind of a hummus without the chick peas and tahini) and the Proscuitto-wrapped Fig with gorgonzola, walnuts and a balsamic syrup (hope that it’s in season and on the menu!). Chris does interesting things with balsamic vinegar and in fact uses olive oil from SoDel Concepts’ olive groves in Italy.
On one of our many visits, we enjoyed the cleverly constructed Baby Kale Salad with pistachio, radish, radicchio, apple and pecorino cheese topped with a delicious raisin vinaigrette (one of the Foodie’s Pick Hits for best salad dressing around). It sports a range of textures that makes every bite a little party in your mouth. Chris Parks has modified it a bit and keep in mind that it is seasonal! Don’t forget the various beet salads, either. The same textural carnival applies. And speaking of carnivals, enjoy one in your mouth by ordering the arancini appetizer. Imagine cheesy risotto, very lightly fried to a crispy panko crust. There are no words.
One of my perpetual go-to dishes is the Parms. Lupo has both Veal Parmesan and Chicken Parmesan. Lupo’s off-season half-price chicken parm special on Tuesdays is legendary, and it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside: There’s always a wait. One of the interesting things about Lupo is that they keep their half-price pasta deal going year-round (it’s on Wednesdays). Again, it usually a madhouse in there, but always fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed the chicken parm. It still retains a polite crunch despite the generous coating of creamy mozzarella. Dining companions have also enjoyed the Grilled Artichoke and the Homemade Mozzarella.
Lupo Italian Kitchen1/18 Lupo Italian Kitchen2/18 Lupo Italian Kitchen3/18 Lupo Italian Kitchen4/18 Chicken parm. Cheezy and not too saucy!5/18 Y’gotta try these meatballs!6/18 Shrimp/mushroom/tomatoes7/18 That amazing kale salad.8/18 Lupo Italian Kitchen9/18 Lobster risotto10/18 the last slice of the seafood pizza…11/18 Softshell special. delicious.12/18 Restaurant Week 2015 dessert!13/18 Lupo Italian Kitchen14/18 Cool & creamy burrata15/18 Chicken Parm16/18 Fall veggie salad17/18 Bucatini w/lobster, peas, pancetta and mascarpone cream18/18
Whatever you do, don’t skip the Veal Meatballs. I get them every time. Rich and tender, they’re slathered with a light red sauce that’s a staple at Lupo Italian Kitchen. Roasted garlic, herbs and olive oil round it all out. While you’re at it, the grilled sausage and peppers “starter” (if it’s on the menu!) is also bright and flavorful. The Italian sausage is the real thing, with a peppery taste and a firm, non-greasy texture.
The menu has a separate section just for pasta. And no wonder! All the pasta at Lupo is now made on the premises. Our experience suggests that the stars of the show are the Slow Roasted Pork Bolognese (with spinach, rosemary and orange zest); the Wild Mushroom Linguine (arugula, pancetta, brandy creme), and the Sausage and Pepper Linguine (onions, chiles, rabe, garlic). I’ll remind you again: like many other Rehoboth Beach eateries, Lupo Italian Kitchen changes its menu on a regular basis, so some of these delights might not be available.
Another of my favorites is the Seared Jumbo Shrimp, nestled in a cozy bed of wild mushroom risotto with white balsamic butter. Beware: It looks like a small portion, but don’t be fooled. It’s very filling! Companions have also raved about the fallin’-off-the-bone Lamb Shank (decorated with polenta and braised fennel), and the Scallops (each encrusted with porcini mushrooms, surrounded by raisins and yellow tomato). I’ve singled these out because I can’t get some of my Foodies-in-Waiting to order anything else.
One more thing: If they have the tiramisu on the menu, GET IT! I have never liked tiramisu; either there was too much wine or it was just way to messy. This is the tiramisu to which other tiramisus come to learn how to be tiramisu. You can trust your Foodie on this.
You can’t miss the place. It’s at 247 Rehoboth Avenue on the first floor of the big, yellow and very friendly Hotel Rehoboth at the corner of Lake Avenue and Rehoboth Avenue. They are open year-round. (302) 226-2240. Click here for the menu at Lupo Italian Kitchen. (D., Bar) Price Range: Expensive -.
RehobothFoodie.com notes the sad passing of chef, award-winning restaurateur and SoDelConcepts founder Matt Haley, who passed away on August 19th, 2014 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash while on a humanitarian trip in the mountains of India. Matt is still sorely missed by many, many people.
Off-season Specials & HoursSpecials & Moods change quickly. Always call a restaurant first.
Sunday Supper! 3 courses $19
25% off your entire check
All pastas half price!
Happy Hour at bar and in the seats! 5-7
Half-price bottles of wine