Atmosphere: The restaurant was perfect for a romantic date night and social dining as it was lighted with flickering yellow candle flame instead of big harsh light bulbs. The super high ceiling and the carpeted floor gave a very classy touch to the restaurant. Besides, there were a lot of Italian ornaments such as the Moka pot tower by the bar and the mega Campari bottle which reminded me of my midsummer night dream in Italy.
Food: The food was so mesmerizing that I went back three times in a month because I just could not get enough of it. We had insalata caprese, octopus salad and a plate of fried seafood to start. When I was in Capri this summer, I had insalata caprese everyday and I also visited a buffalo mozzarella factory in Caiazzo so I knew how hard it was to import quality and fresh buffalo mozzarella into China. The buffalo mozzarella did not fail me one single bit, just as I cut it open, it was oozing buffalo milk. The cheese curd was very elastic as it gave me an extra bite before it unleashed buffalo milk in my mouth. It was my first time seeing the whole uncut mozzarella served on a plate. It was absolutely photogenic as it looked like a giant shining pearl on the table but it would be easier for us to eat if the cheese ball was sliced ahead of time. The tomato slices in the salad were nevertheless very fresh and of top quality but they were so small I would almost call them cherry tomatoes. The only comment I had on the salad is the inadequacy of fresh basil leaves or basil reduction. An Italian chef once told me insalata caprese should have an equal significance of the the three colorful ingredients just like an Italian flag.
The warm octopus salad was much desired for the autumn weather as it was charcoal grilled and smoked to perfection while it remained tender and slightly chewy. The mashed potato was magically creamy. For a few moments I thought that was potato flavored whipped cream instead. There were also some croutons on top to add a crisp to the bite and some pickles to balance out the smokiness of the octopus legs.
On the other hand, I would not recommend the fritto misto (fried seafood) as the shrimps were not fresh and the shells tasted almost fishy. It tasted as if they were using those forever frozen mixed seafood but I was expecting more at this price.
For the main dish we got a 1.2kg angus T bone steak to share and it was to die for. We loved our steak medium rare and it was not overcooked or under cooked at all. There must be a very stringent control of temperature, cooking time and method. I absolutely adored how the surface of the steak was crispy as I was tempted to bite right into the steak instead of cutting it into smaller pieces.
Besides, we ordered a duck ragu pappardelle and an ossobuco with risotto. Nothing beats freshly made pasta with stewed meat. Everything was perfect except that the portion was just a little bit too small to satisfy my carbohydrate cravings. The juices of the duck ragu was thick enough to linger on the pappardelle and the little diced duck meat would often be trapped in the rolled up pasta to give the best power bite of the dish.
Til this date I am still reminiscing about the ossobuco, especially the bone marrow in the middle. The meat was literally falling off the bone, it was a salty version of floss candy. No chewing was required as it melted in my mouth. The saltiness and oiliness of the ossobuco was the perfect match with the hearty and creamy risotto. The dish was surprisingly filling and I think it was best to share it with friends.
A slight delight on the side was the zucchini. It was a thick cross-section cut of a zucchini. I had never seen a zucchini served like this before. More importantly, it was adequately seasoned and sautéed.
We had a tiramisu and a Mont Blanc for dessert. The tiramisu was standard but the Mont Blanc was a surprise as there was ice cream inside the chestnut purée!
Service: The service was impersonal. The restaurant was inside of a hotel called the Middle House so there was a doorman holding an umbrella and opening the door for me the moment I got off my car. There were two staff constantly stationed at the front door to handle bookings and seatings. At the dining table, there was another flight of staff serving water and bread, giving you the menu and answering questions on the daily specials. We ordered a lot of wine and there was a waiter who was constantly around to refill my wine.
A lot of people don’t like restaurant in malls. But technically, Frasca is a restaurant in a hotel that happens to be in a mall. And it also happens to be one of the best new restaurants in Shanghai.\
While you can access the hotel through Taikoo Hui Mall, once you get into the Middle House hotel, you will feel like you are a whole world away. Even though you are just a few feet from the largest Starbucks in the world, the well-designed landscaping has a resort feel as you walk through the lobby and outside to the restaurant.
We booked a large party for 20 people in their private room. From start to finish the planning and service were top notch. Special thanks to Mark, the manager who helped us plan the event.
We ordered a variety of courses from the menu. The pastas were really outstanding, and I also really liked the pisca. It’s like a pizza but super crunchy and loaded with toppings.
Perhaps the branzino or sea bass baked in a salt crust was the only dish that we didn’t finish. This looked really cool when it came out and was served tableside. Nothing about it was bad, but it also wasn’t very special or unique like the other dishes above. The T bone steak was fantastic and was devoured before the plate had even cooled. The tiramisu for sharing was also worked great as a birthday cake and was the perfect end to the meal.
Frasca should be everyone’s go-to for Italian food in Shanghai.
The Middle House is maybe the darkest five-star hotel I've been to, which matches their identity of "A calm oasis amongst the dynamic backdrop of Asia's most sophisticated city." I like it. The 4th floor rooftop makes for good sunset watching and Café Grey seems like an ideal place to get over jet lag. Their flagship Italian restaurant is equally modern and relaxing, though some dishes need work.
A dark restaurant feels great in this world of neon Instagram-bait. And lounge music mixtapes sound surprisingly good in the era of playlists and algorithms. Great service too. One customer who some might call "severely underdressed" still got constant water pours, bread top-ups, and smiles.
Everything here tastes homemade. Sometimes that's a huge compliment and sometimes not. A wood-grilled chicken salad makes one wonder what kind of magic they can do with steaks. The truffle mashed potatoes are dreams. And though a pesto pasta tasted truly fresh, two diners agreed: just slightly undercooked. Finally, a bizarre disappointment: a broccoli leaf and sausage pizza. Oily with a taste of refrigerated leftovers, it tasted like Chinese New Year. Is that basic-American ignorance to think that an Italian restaurant should have good pizza?
Should have ended with a tiramisu, an espresso, and maybe a slice from Homeslice instead. Still, would go back to explore other parts of the menu and enjoy the vibe and service.
Summary: Sharp, relaxing Italian restaurant in The Middle House hotel with great service and vibe, some standout dishes and some misses. Go for the wood-grilled options and side dishes. Good value.
Price: ~ 240rmb per person with one glass of wine.
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