Lugo Caffé Brings Italian Style to One Penn Plaza
Midtown residents, corporate executives and commuters passing through Penn Station don’t need to go downtown to enjoy contemporary Italian food in stylish surroundings since Lugo Caffé recently opened on West 33rd Street, directly opposite Madison Square Garden.
In the roomy, high-ceilinged space, formerly occupied by Tupelo Grill, there’s a busy bar, a stylish dining room, seating 150 guests, and an intimate private room that can comfortably accommodate 100 for cocktails and antipasti or 42 for a seated dinner. In the warmer months there will be outdoor seating overlooking Madison Square Garden.
Lugo Caffé offers a selection of salumeria, antipasti, insalate, pizzas, pastas, meat and fish entrées and tempting dolce. Chef Greg Lombardi’s menu includes eggplant caponata; wild mushroom pizza with truffle oil and sea salt; Berkshire pork chop with Tuscan kale and pancetta; and rigatoni all'amatriciana with pancetta, baby tomatoes and caramelized onions. The well-priced wine list favors Italian regional wines and offers them by the quartino and mezzo (quarter and half-liter carafes), in addition to the bottiglia. It’s also a great place to linger over an expertly-made morning or afternoon espresso or cappuccino with dessert.
The hip décor, designed by Jun Aziki of Cream Design (whose previous credits include Forge and Rayuela), marries the classic and the modern. White tiles cover much of the walls and light wood Venetian blinds filter the exterior light coming through the ceiling-height windows. Large black and white photo-murals capture the glamour of la dolce vita 1960’s style with models, film-stars, racing cars and Vespa scooters.
Lugo Caffé first opened its doors in October and since then the reviews have been very positive. With its location on the doorstep of New York City’s fashion district, it has already won over the fashionistas. In WWD Scoop, the supplement to Women’s Wear Daily, their Insider Editor chose Lugo Caffé as one of just 18 “New & Noteworthy Restaurants,” along with such hits as Drew Nieporent’s three-star Corton, Braeburn, Bouley, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Matsugen and Danny Meyer’s new Upper West Side Shake Shack.
The team behind Lugo Caffé, Lugo Tailored Lifestyle, also owns Lugo Menswear, a hip boutique on Mott Street in Nolita. A few samples of their shirts are displayed at the restaurant and the staff members are outfitted in shirts and ties from the Lugo Menswear collection. Johnny Heil is a member of the partnership, who also recently opened Scarpetto on West 14th Street, near the Meatpacking District, featuring the contemporary Italian cuisine of Executive Chef Scott Conant. Another Scarpetto is located in Las Vegas. Johnny also owns the 34th Street neighborhood bar and eatery Local West and the popular Lenny’s chain of sandwich shops, several of which are near the 34th Street district. Asked how he liked the location of Lugo Caffé he enthusiastically replied, “I LOVE this neighborhood, it’s got everything going on. We do great business here.”
Lugo Caffè is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday, 11am to midnight. One Penn Plaza (33rd Street, east of Eighth Avenue); 212-760-2700.