Overdue for a splurge? Want to impress? La Houppa has just the answer for you.
Located on E. 64th St. between Madison and 5th, La Houppa is an elegant, upscale but by no means stuffy or boring Upper-East side choice.
The decor alone is a feast for the eyes. The dining room strikes a soothing balance of vibrance and subdued subtelty. Fauvist-like murals and Mondrian-inspired light fixtures brighten the dim candle-like lighting effect.
The menu presents many traditional favorites, such as veal scallopine and penne alla vodka. A few of them appear with a “La Houppa-twist” like the Balsamic Chicken Breast Rollatini (which I’ve sampled and is divine served with shallots that are bathed in a mildly acidic, delicately aromatic balsamic reduction) and the linguini alle vongole with zucchini and fresh oregano (I’m of the school that oregano has no place on seafood, but the zucchini almost justifies an exception here). A couple of La Houppa’s bolder pasta adaptations include homemade ravioli filled with pear, asiago and walnut sauce and the homemade basil linguini with pumpkin, goat cheese fondue, hazelnuts and topped with black truffles. There are also seasonal dishes. The pumpkin risotto with lobster and asparagus was not outstanding. While the risotto was creamy without being overdone, I felt as though the risotto did not sufficiently absorb the delicate flavors of the lobster. The lobster would have stood out more with a tagliolini pasta. The presentation was pleasing to the eye and the portion generous for the general tenor of the restaurant.
The waiters, who are doting, but not instrusive, and the sensous environs with good acoustics also have a great part in rendering an evening at La Houppa both enjoyable and relaxing. While an evening at La Houppa won’t be a bargain, a glass of the house Pinot Grigio costs $14, it is a pleasurable indulgence.