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This 598rmb Lunch is Obscenely Expensive. It’s Also a Great Deal.

By May 20, 2020 Dining

TELL EVERYONE

I never thought Otto e Mezzo would become a favorite of mine. I’m not sure what I abhor more: Michelin stars (they have two), four-figure dinners or hushed carpeted dining rooms. But when I went for my 2019 PastaQuest, I immediately saw what chefs in town told me about it: these guys are insane. Executive chef Riccardo La Perna is fabulously, expensively, obsessively dedicated to having only the best product in his marble-floored kitchen. So many restaurants say that. Only a handful eat the cost of actually doing it. La Perna does. The problem is I can’t really afford it. But now there’s an in: a new 598rmb lunch. They’ve never done lunch before. It’s only available for two hours. It’s obscenely expensive. It’s also a steal.

So I went last week to see La Perna and chef de cuisine Marco Xodo. Lunch was ridiculous.

This is the menu.

A damn OLIVE OIL CART with four choices for the bread

Asparagus
Poached white asparagus, 5J ham, salad leaves

Busiate
Morelli artisanal pasta, sea urchin, fine herbs

Beef
Australian “Mayura Station” classic tagliata, salad leaves, potatoes

Or

Toothfish
Pan-seared filet, whipped belly, Mediterranean flavors

Sgroppino
Lemon ice-cream sorbet


And this is what that looks like in person.


Asparagus blanketed in super-expensive ham




An expensive pasta turned orange from the Japanese sea urchin




Wagyu (=expensive) skirt steak, roasted over high-temp bincho-tan charcoal


(Why would you order the fish)


A mix of pure cream ice cream, lemon sorbet and sparkling wine, mashed at the table with two spoons


Ridiculous. Expensive. Expensive. Ridiculous.

When were finished, La Perna took us back in the kitchen and gave an impromptu lesson on an Italian fundamental: tomato sauce. He called for some from his team and spooned it on to a white plate. The bright red sauce sat there like pigment. We watched it for a while. Not the faintest sign of water or oil separated from the sauce. It tasted like fresh, crushed tomatoes. That was the lesson. La Perna is from Sicily. He takes tomato sauce very seriously. He takes everything very seriously.

Otto e Mezzo is what happens when price is no object for Italian food. It is unabashed luxury, from service to food, with the highest quality ingredients used liberally, almost wastefully. Hard to overstate how luxurious the place is, or how expensive. And yet -- it remains a favorite for the absolute dedication to and unabashed reverence for raw ingredients. La Perna’s technique looks simple. But there is little the restaurant doesn’t make itself, and after talking to him on several occasions, I can tell you, his technique is as complicated as the dishes appear simple.

Being able to dip into that world for 598rmb, when the average dinner check (according to Dianping) is 2,083rmb?

A bargain.

See the event listing here.

TELL EVERYONE

1 comments.

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  • 14 days ago jacobflowers

    What is the top photo? The round white thing?

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