170 Thompson Street
Speak to us of bistro and we think: neighborhood, casual, rustic. We think of Lupa, an homage to the Roman trattoria, with its friendly wait crew in butcher's coats, a surprisingly serious cellar, a pride of cheeses, softhearted prices, and better-than-homey bourgeois cooking. Lunch is easy, uncrowded, time for the lush, hot oxtail sandwich or penne with sausage and goat ricotta, then three kinds of pecorino as an excuse for another glass of wine. Beat the crush at dinner by claiming seats at the bar earlyish for rigatoni with tripe or ricotta gnocchi with fennel sausage followed by classic saltimbocca or oxtail alla vaccinara. Cured meats -- braesola, mortadella, soppressata -- are served all afternoon and sold over the counter. Babbo's Italian daddies Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich -- and their partner here, Jason Denton -- run the town's winningest new spiritual bistro. No frisée aux lardons. No steak-frites. No attitude.