La Lupa - Manalapan, NJ

We enjoyed a sensational dinner at La Lupa with some friends who recommended this restaurant that has been opened for around 5 months. It is a very small and noisy restaurant in a strip mall that was jam packed at 5 PM on a Sunday. The owners are very passionate about their food and use only the best ingredients. They frequently come around to every table during dinner to make sure everything is satisfactory. We enjoyed Berkshire pork; veal; steamed halibut; pillowy soft Roman gnocchi; crispy and juicy fried chicken with hot honey; heirloom tomato salad with Bufala mozzarella ; creamy white clam pizza; and the most moist olive oil cake. It was well worth the over 1 hour trip.


I love you Eli! Tytyty for finding a quality restaurant near my new place. Everything looks great. Of course, no prices on the website, was it expensive?

I will be there soon.


I keep forgetting to post about La Lupa. Been there a few times now. Difficult ressie to snag, but they are on Open Table. Have ordered the clam pizza on each visit and it is delicious. So far have only had a couple of the pastas and starters. It’s small, the tables are close and can get very loud, but the food is terrific.


Here’s their website:


You’re welcome David. It is a little on the expensive side, but they use top quality ingredients. The prices are a little less than Il Nido. The halibut special was about $42 and the Berkshire pork was around $48. It can get very crowded and noisy but the food is fantastic. The Roman gnocchi and olive oil cake are better than Il Nido. I only wish it was closer. I think they have limited openings on Open Table, so you may be better off making reservations in person or over the phone if you can reach them.
I look forward to your review.


My daughter and I got a 4:30 reservation yesterday. Not that it was the only time available, I just like to eat early. By the time we left close to 6 it was almost full. The place is as @paryzer described but has a cute and cool vibe.

The people there are nice, from the busboys to the owners - very friendly and welcoming. My biggest complaint is with their reservations system as they only use Open Table and do not answer the phone during service hours. Minor quibble but I did mention it when I chatted with one of the owners.

The food is spot on. We started with the clam pizza. I love the white clam pie from New Haven and I think the majority of NJ joints ruin it with tomato sauce. This pie is even more minimal than those New Haven pies as it doesn’t even have cheese! My daughter, who does not love clams, ate four slices to my two and she wanted more. I love that they don’t put the calabrian chilis on the pie as a topping, but instead leave a good size bowl of the peppers out with the pizza so you can have as many or few as you like.

Next we shared two appetizers, the artichokes and the fried chicken. The artichokes were wondeful - whole small artichokes fried just until they got a little crispy on the outside. They were topped with a light and creamy lemon sauce speckled with pancetta done in a lardon style. My mistake was not saving some pizza crusts to sop up the extra sauce. My advice, get the focaccia with it.

The chicken, three small boneless breast cutlets, was juicy and crispy and topped with homemade hot honey. I’m thinking that a combo of this chicken and their focaccia would make a nice gourmet hot chicken sandwich. I should have asked what their take-out policy is.

We wanted to save room for the olive oil cake but we had to try a steak, so we got the wagyu skirt. It was almost A5 quality, tender and flavorful. Also perfectly medium rare as ordered. A minor quibble is that comes to table already sliced and, as is the case at most good steakhouses, it was a little too salty.

We barely finished all that wonderful steak and couldn’t even squeeze in another bite so the cake will have to wait. All in it came to $160 for the two of us.

Thank you again @paryzer for posting about this place.


I’m so happy that you enjoyed it David! It looks like an awesome dinner. I love those Calabrian chilis with the pizza, and the fried chicken was outstanding. The artichoke and steak looked really good.
We can’t wait to go back. The owner was actually looking to expand but the store next door wouldn’t sell out to them. He is considering getting a larger place in Manalapan.


I believe my friend who owns Solo in Freehold kids own this place. They do travel extensively & always spring a surprise on their offerings. Due to some unforeseen circumstances I haven’t been here yet .

Love you man so interesting


Correct. The owner of Solo is married to my boss’ cousin, so I have a connection.

We ate at La Lupa, it was excellent. A little pricey, but the food was outstanding so no complaints. I really loved the carbonara my daughter had, reminiscent of what I had in Rome.

The space is cozy and loud, but the decor was definitely my style (rustic).

As a proud Italian American, I bristle at most Italian restaurants, particularly at the Shore. While some May pine for the “red sauce” joints that dotted New York for so long, that’s not really my thing. La Lupa is breaking that trend with their offerings.

I’ll be back for sure.


I knew George’s kids were involved just didn’t want to put it out there until I spoke with him. When I learned of this project based on Solo’s years of success I knew it would be special. Thanks for confirming.

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You should also try Il Nido, if you haven’t already done so. That is another excellent Italian restaurant that is not a ‘red sauce’ restaurant.


THIS gives me hope! I’m with you - no need for the ‘red sauce’ dinners, but an interesting and well-done Italian menu is a different story!

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Definitely on my list!


Market crudo was tuna for $28?
Pesce del giorno was scallops for $48
KC strip $75
Cowboy $90?
Waygu $125 or $160 for 2? Sorry, I can’t be sure. If La Lupa wants accuracy they should post a menu with prices.

I liked that they recited the prices for all the MKT items.

Service was very nice. Everything was good. Portions were small. Sides are extra.

They were playing loud rap (?) in the background. #notsureboomerhere

They charge a fee for cc. It was around 4.25%


Was there 3 weeks ago , food was very good and yes portions are on smaller side, no bread on table and music was a a bit too contemporary and loud for these old and tired ears.

But again i enjoyed the food and will be back hopefully soon.


According to Florence Fabricant’s “Off the Menu” column in today’s NY Times, Chef Giorgio Ciciarelli, who had been La Lupa’s chef since it opened, left to open a new restaurant in Manhattan. She doesn’t say exactly when he left. We have never been to La Lupa because there is no outdoor seating. With a different chef in charge of the kitchen, I hope those of you who do dine there are still finding the food to be as excellent as your reports here indicate.

Ate at the counter a couple of weeks ago and there was some talk regarding the new NYC restaurant. I’ve now dined there many times and tend to stick with a combination of apps, pizza and pastas – generally all very good. Have yet to order off the entree menu, but everything that comes out of the kitchen looks delicious. RGR, even if you were dining indoors, I think La Lupa’s high decibel level might be a turn off, unless you were to dine early when they are not too full.

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