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The Gatekeepers: Jason Denton

This is The Gatekeepers, a photo series Eater has commissioned from Michael Harlan Turkell. Herein, we're pleased to introduce you to the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite impossible-to-get tables.


Lupa needs no introduction, but, here, we'll try. Other than off-season afternoons, when tables are generally available, Lupa usually sports waits of 60-90 minutes. This is due to the fact that chef/owner/gatekeeper Jason Denton is running one of the best Italian restaurants in New York. Cured meats are blissfully good (though may or may not be cured quasi-legally in the basement) and a cacio e pepe and a bottle of Barolo on a Sunday afternoon is one of the great pleasures of living in New York. If you want to get in on the fun without waiting hours, Jason -- even more than co-owners Batali and Bastianich, with respect -- is the man you need to know.

Jason Denton: It's not easy to get them, but we take reservations one month to the numerical date in advance, and the closer to 10:00 that morning you call the better your chances of getting a reservation during peak hours.

We always encourage anyone who hasn’t gotten the reservation time they wanted to join us as a walk in. There may be a wait but we try to accommodate everyone. We always try to exceed expectations and a table that’s having a bowl of pasta and a glass of rose is just as important to us as large table having tasting menus and $300 bottles of Barolo.

For parties of 7 or more we offer a tasting menu. The menu includes a family style antipasti course, two tasting courses of pasta, a choice of three entrees, and family style courses of cheese and dessert. The menu is $60 per person and it really gives a great overview of what we do here. We take reservations for parties of 7 or more 3 months in advance.

The bottom line is if you want to join us for a meal we will do everything we can to try to get you seated. My advice is, be the constant optimist, you’re not going to get a table if you don’t try!

· The Gatekeepers [~E~]