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New Eats: La Stazione

Pizzas, pastas, and vino from the team behind Goodfellas, DVino, and Pervert Parties. A look inside the latest opening on Yanping Lu...
By Jan 29, 2015 Dining


This is the latest from the MVP team, that diversified party planning, design, and F&B company. Other works in their opus include Goodfellas, Pervert Parties, and those regular "Girls Night Out" ladies nights at Bar Rouge. They've got a huge Rolodex, and you're probably on it.

To build the place, they've repurposed some properties on Yanping Lu, merging their former wine bar DVino with the space formerly occupied by Sushi Abuse. It's an improvement. The place is reasonably strong on first impressions. It's rustic with lithe, flowing art nouveau accents. Chintzy crystal chandeliers dangle from the ceilings, providing just enough light so you can read your menu. An eclectic mix of funk, jazz, and R&B permeate the air.



Service staff has clearly been rigorously trained, too — perhaps almost to a fault. They hover awkwardly around your table, waiting for you to clear a plate or empty a glass. Even when they're not in your line of sight, you can feel them looking at you. It's invasive and annoying. And yet, I still can't begrudge them with a clear conscience. Good service is a subtle art, and only now are restaurants in this city getting the hang of it. This is a step in the right direction. In the meantime, I'm willing to suffer a few overbearing — albeit well intended — waiters. All in the name of progress.

I only wish I could be as forgiving of the food. There are just so damn many Italian restaurants in Shanghai. There is a lot of competition out there, and I don't see anything on La Stazione's menu that stands out. To be fair, this is their soft-opening menu. It could be a work in progress. But if that's the case, I humbly submit the following suggestion: Season your food!

From apps to desserts, there was a common theme to my dinner here: no flavor. This zucchini parmigiana, for instance, is a welcome twist on a staple of Italian cuisine. And it would have been pretty tasty had the chef beefed the recipe up with a little salt and garlic. A whole lot of squandered potential here.



This Caesar salad fared slightly better. That telltale salty pungence of anchovies shines through ever so slightly in the dressing, but why not toss a couple of whole anchovies or a soft-boiled egg on top to vary the texture? It's not a bad salad, but it's far from great.



Or there is this...



Agnolotti with porcini cream. It sounds good on the menu, looks good on the table, but it just turns out so disappointingly lifeless and bland.

Pizzas here are a fair effort. No complaints about the crust. The cheese is alright, too. I actually let it burn my tongue, so I could remember what it's like to taste. But between them lies a sauce that is simply devoid of any zest or verve. The sauce is that crucial third pillar to a pizza. Compromise that and the whole structure crumples like a paper cup. Fortunately, the spice from the salami on top acts as a proxy on this one.

Desserts are largely Italian classics, like this panna cotta. This is a textbook example, and tastes exactly as it should (take some notes, Bokka). The mango sauce on top is arguably the most flavor I experienced all meal.



So in spite of all this, is it a total loss? No. The hardware here seems well in place here. These are software problems that are easy to fix. And seeing as how this is their soft-opening menu, I'd assume they're open to make some changes.

For a listing of La Stazione click here.

TELL EVERYONE


9 comments.

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  • LoganLoganLogan

    This might be one of laugh out loud funniest things I've read in a review:
    "Pizzas here are a fair effort. No complaints about the crust. The cheese is alright, too. I actually let it burn my tongue, so I could remember what it's like to taste."

  • gosatti

    Justin Fischer,............. before say some, be sure the power is connect and your brain on............ be food critic is no easy, and you are not one of them........

  • Justin Fischer

    Duly noted, gosatti. Duly noted.

  • Sam Gaskin

    Comments section critic, way easier.

  • MattiaMVP

    Dear Justin, thanks for the review, it's anyway free advertisement.

    You are welcome to come over after the soft opening when there will be the final menu...
    I'll contact you after consulting my Rolodex ;-P

    cheers,
    M

  • Nick Charles

    Justin has accurately described the very disappointing meal that was encountered at La Stazione. MVP has failed us and failed themselves. The quality does not match their other endeavors. Service is tripping over itself. Food is tasteless, menu is inconsistent, etc. They appear to have no idea what this restaurant should be. The train has definitely left this station.

    Think guys. We deserve better!

  • MattiaMVP

    Nick, I'm sorry you have some issues and really small knowledge of the restaurants...

  • sarahombz

    wow mattia, how about some humility and respect for peoples opinion. this is not free adv. who has a rolodex anyways? get over yourself

  • Justin Fischer

    @MattiaMVP: Really, dude?! This is how you talk to your customers?

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