It’s been nearly a year in the making, but the highly anticipated fine dining restaurant Lupi & Iris, is slated to open its doors to the public for dinner service beginning Tuesday, May 17 at 5 p.m.
Leading the new Mediterranean restaurant at 777 N. Van Buren in the 7SEVENTY7 building is James Beard Award-winning Chef Adam Siegel and architect and developer Michael DeMichele.
Together, they’ve created a beautifully executed space where diners can enjoy a menu of fresh, Mediterranean style cuisine inspired by the French and Italian Riviera.
“It is truly a labor of love that we’ve both poured our hearts and souls into for nearly a year.” says Siegel. “And we’ve gone to great lengths to deliver a standard of excellence that goes above and beyond in every respect.”
That includes a staff of notable industry professionals including general manager Scott Williams; restaurant managers Katlyn Arnold and Quentin Watson and catering and event manager Dan Wustrack.
In the kitchen, Siegel will be working alongside executive sous chef Kaitlin Greenhalgh; sous chefs Kaitlin Schleef, Tahrim Tatum and Sandy Hierro and pastry chef Courtney Beyer. Guests will also benefit from the knowledge of sommelier Toni Johnson who created the Lupi & Iris wine program with assistance from consultant Ben Christianson of Waterford Wine.
The 10,500 square foot restaurant is massive in comparison to many restaurants; but thanks to a smart layout featuring several distinctive areas, guests will also find an inviting atmosphere that’s simultaneously sophisticated and welcoming.
Floor to ceiling windows offer natural light throughout the space, which is filled with signature design elements from deeply colored walnut trim and brass accents to a complementary color palette showcasing comforting blues, grays and strategic pops of orange and teal.
As guests enter the space, they’ll find a lively bar area with modern brass lighting fixtures and high top seating that surrounds the eatery’s 18-seat horseshoe-shaped bar. The bar itself features a zinc top and a base of walnut inlaid with brass accents.
An elevated lounge area off to the right is framed out by a burnt orange leather banquette and accompanying two top tables.
Behind the bar is a climate controlled glass wine vault with refrigeration zones that accommodate 2,000 bottles of sparkling, white and red wines. Inside, an end-grain teak island will accommodate wine opening and tasting with accessories like an interior sound system and built-in decanting lights.
Flanked by the wine vault on one side and the kitchen on the other, the main dining area features warm oak flooring, central planters showcasing two realistic olive trees interplanted with living greenery and seating for 84 on teal leather chairs imported from Italy. Meanwhile, waves of custom acoustic baffles lend a distinctive decorative element to the ceiling along with modern brass chandeliers. Meanwhile, custom window screens along Mason Street allow full control of the natural light in the dining room as well as privacy.
The kitchen itself comprises an open concept flanked by a Chef’s Counter with seating for eight guests which offers a bird’s eye view of the kitchen’s wood-fired oven and grill, custom built cooking suite and an expo area from which chefs, including Siegel, can engage with guests.
A state of the art CaptiveAire®- enhanced HVAC system enhances safety by improving indoor air quality with three full fresh-air exchanges per hour, as well as excellent ventilation for the kitchen.
On the menu
The menu at Lupi & Iris takes inspiration from years of Siegel’s experiences as a chef, both in the U.S. and beyond.
“Throughout my career, I’ve worked for Italian, French and Spanish chefs,” he says. “I’ve worked in France and lived and worked in Italy. All of those influences can be found in the menu I’ve created. It’s cuisine that I love and I’m looking forward to sharing Lupi & Iris with the city that I love.”
Dishes will include fresh mussels and clams steamed with white wine, garlic and chilies and served with cherry tomatoes saucisson, oregano and white beans.
Seasonal asparagus salad will be topped with mushrooms, sherry vinaigrette and a fried egg and served with garlic toast, while soupe au pistou will reflect the classic Provencal dish with lentils and herb puree.
Housemade pastas will include Ligurian trofie pasta with Genovese pesto, string beans, potatoes and fresh Parmesan; ravioli filled with braised beef and served with chard and tomatoes; and corzetti pasta coins served with creamy walnut sauce, parmesan and marjoram.
Seafood lovers will find dishes like traditional bouillabaisse scented with saffron and white wine, along with Mediterranean seafood stew with fresh scallops, clams, mussels, lobster and fish in a spicy white wine-tomato broth with sweet herbs.
Meanwhile, sea bass will be baked in parchment and served with bright seasonal artichokes barigoule, basil and tomato.
Lamb chops will be grilled over oak and cherry and served with ratatouille, pistou and black olive puree, while roasted veal chops will be accompanied by grilled broccolini, caramelized anchovy-garlic, herbs and fingerling potatoes.
Guests can also order bistecca, a 44-ounce roasted porterhouse flavored with garlic and herbs and served with persillade sauce and roasted vegetables.
Each dish will be presented at the tables using a collection of porcelain coated cast iron and uniquely shaped tableware that enhances the overall guest experience.
“When we say we focused on every detail, we’re being literal,” notes Siegel. “It took us months to select our table settings of china, glassware and silverware. The pieces we chose are 100% unique to Lupi & Iris.”
Private event spaces
Lupi & Iris will also feature three distinctive private dining spaces.
Two smaller spaces, the Genoa and Barcelona rooms, sit astride the main dining room and can accommodate groups of 8 and 16 respectively or a total of 24 guests when conjoined.
But there is also Marseille, a signature private dining room which accommodates 80 guests for a sit-down event and up to 100 for cocktail and hors d’oeuvre service. The space boasts its own private entrance at 605 E. Mason St., a private open kitchen and bar, designated restrooms and a state-of-the-art AV system.
The entire restaurant is also available to host large private events upon request. Inquiries can be directed to
Plan your visit
Beginning May 17, Lupi & Iris will offer dinner service Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m
Siegel says he expects to add lunch service by mid-June and brunch by late June.
Lunch will be added in mid-June and brunch will debut in late-June. Lupi & Iris also has a spacious outdoor patio that’s expected to open in June, weather dependent.
June will also bring al fresco dining to the restaurant with the unveiling of their vibrant patio shaded by two 16-foot umbrellas, which will accommodate up to 60 guests with urban views of Van Buren and Mason Streets.
Reservations can be made online by visiting lupiandiris.com or calling the restaurant at (414) 293-9090.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.