A Tuscan courtyard in the heart of Bengaluru is divided into meticulously crafted fine-dining zones, pampering you with choices of wines, inventive cocktails and an impressive variety of European cuisine. Lupa―the new restaurant on MG Road, Bengaluru―is the brainchild of chef-restaurateur Manu Chandra and hospitality veteran Chetan Rampal.
Lupa is named after the mythological La Lupa, or the she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of the modern city of Rome. “The Roman goddess is a nurturing spirit, but also untameable. I think that resonated with me,” says Chandra, the Delhi lad who pursued his passion for food at the Culinary Institute of America and returned to India in 2004 to join Olive Beach in Bengaluru as its chef de cuisine.
Inspired by everything Italian―from architecture and history to food and wine―Chandra hopes to redefine the fine-dining experience in Bengaluru.
In October 2021, he quit the Olive group―where he had served as the chef partner for 17 years―to become an entrepreneur. Lupa is the first restaurant project by his company, Savaa Ser. He also founded Single Thread, a culinary consultancy and catering company. Last year, Chandra cooked the inaugural dinner for Indian luminaries at the Cannes film festival.
He points to the central fountain with the she-wolf heads in marble and says, “The sound of trickling water from the hand-carved marble fountains blending with the curated ambient music helps drown out the madness right across the wall [on the busy MG Road]. The open courtyard and the sound of the metro in the backdrop reminds one of the New York subway.”
The menu is rooted in a trans-European style. The classic European flavours are brought alive by culinary director and chef Prashanth Puttaswamy. Some of the offerings include buratta dusted with spray-dried tomato powder, textures of tomatoes, baby arugula, pepitas, fennel, cauliflower espuma and basil oil; hamachi crudo with sashimi grade yellow tail, red cabbage and ponzu dressing, bonito mayo, nati coriander leaves, Bubu arare and pickled cherry radish; corzetti pasta with a wild mushroom ragu topped with crispy garlic and toasted walnuts; and Arroz De Pato, a unique version of Portuguese duck rice where the rice is cooked with aromatic duck stock, spices, cured duck breast and chorizo.
Two signature open pantries―a mini Gelato Lab and a Salumeria-cum-Small Plates Bar―give customers a fresh experience in taste as well as concept. “The thing that most people don’t understand is that pizza and gelato need the right heat for the right product,” says Chandra. The pantries serve freshly sliced hams, cured meats, salumis, pâtés, terrines, pickled vegetables, and fresh cheeses.
Lupa’s signature cocktails include Lupa-tini, made with house-made sous-vide limoncello; Clarified Pina Colada, made with washed coconut fat and milk clarified rum with pineapple; and the Notorious F.I.G, made with house-made fig jam infused bourbon, cold pressed orange juice, coffee bitters, cinnamon and thyme. The restaurant offers non-alcoholic beverages, too, with a coffee and tea programme that lets you relish a stirred negroni or a perfectly pulled espresso.
A narrow winding staircase takes you to the country’s first below-ground wine cellar. The stone-clad cellar sits twelve feet below ground level, with a curated list of nearly two thousand bottles of wine, with an exclusive tasting zone available only by prior appointment. “This restaurant aspires to be more than just a brick-and-mortar space, as it hopes to host international bartender residencies,” says Chandra. “Bartenders from all over the world will be invited to spend a month at Lupa to bring in freshness and versatility into the space.”