Executive chef Todd Sprik wants Wharf newcomer Lupo Marino (40 Pearl Street SW) to be the restaurant anyone who visits the Southwest waterfront feels comfortable popping into for a bite.
“We don’t want to be a prestigious place. We want to be an hole-in-the-wall,” Sprik says of the casual Italian restaurant opening Friday, May 18.
At the heart of the beautifully laid out restaurant sits its 1,200 pound Marra Forni oven, the tool Sprik and his kitchen staff will use to spin out a handful of Neapolitan pies that start at $10 for a build-your-own option and rise to $15 each for specialty selections. The remainder of the menu is rounded out by a few carryovers from flagship restaurant Lupo Verde (fried artichokes, cheese and pepper noodles) plus bar snacks ($7-$14), gourmet panini sandwiches ($13-$17), substantial entrees ($32-$38), and assorted sweets ($10 each).
An alum of restaurants ranging from now-defunct Colicchio & Sons in New York to French brasserie Le Zoo in Florida, Sprik most recently served as chef de cuisine at Mediterranean-style Byblos in Miami. “Everything is salty. It’s going to activate the palate,” he says of the communal snacks at Lupo Marino. Initial offerings include a basket of fried seafood, salt cod croquettes with horseradish, and marinated olives.
Sprik lists the tuna confit panini with roasted peppers relish, and the roast pork sandwiches with broccoli rabe pesto as personal favorites. There’s also a classic Italian version layered with multiple meats bathed in red wine vinaigrette. Featured pastas ($20-$24) include spaghetti with spring peas and ground pork tossed in cured egg yolk; gnocchi with wild mushrooms and pickled ramps; and noodles mixed with blue crab ragu accented by lemon-parsley gremolata.
Entrees include a 14-ounce New York strip with anchovy butter; a half cornish hen with braised escarole;and grilled dorade accompanied by farro, chermoula, and pickled beets. Dessert items include Nutella-filled Italian doughnuts (bombolini) , blood orange gelato, and zeppole with pistachio cream.
Lupo Marino’s baking team produces all the pizza dough as well as a few freshly baked breads. Owner Med Lahlou (Lupo Verde, Station 4, Lupo Verde Osteria) says those baked goods — including loaves of ciabatta, baguettes, raisin-cranberry bread, rustic-style Pugliese, and select pastries — will be available for carryout at the counter to the right of the pizza oven.
Meanwhile, the bar plans to serve four beers on tap — mixed between imports and domestic brews — along cocktails, and dozens of Italian wines including assorted sparklers.
Lupo Marino is projected to operate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily to start. Weekday happy hour is scheduled to run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Weekend brunch is projected to follow in about a month. Lahlou tells Eater he may eventually remain open later on weekends depending on demand.
Status: Certified open. 40 Pearl Street SW; website.
Scroll down to view the opening menu and pictures of certain dishes: