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Where We’re Eating: Mozzarella E Vino, Amalia, Juanito's

Here's three picks from the swath of new openings out there in F&B land...
2023-02-08 17:00:00
On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places we find interesting. Sometimes we stumble upon these places, and sometimes we are invited, but in both cases, we are never paid to write an opinion, rather, these are our honest first impressions, and not a formal review.

Lots of activity in restaurants and bars these days. Kinda feels like the last few years didn't even happen?

Taste that hope and optimism for the future!

SmartShanghai checked out three new places lately and these are them. Roll on with the newness.


6 Hengshan Lu, Room 101A, near... View ListingTaxi Printout

Mozzerella e Vino has a corner spot in that new lifestyle-food-shopping hub Hengshan 8. A high-end urban expansion, Hengshan 8 is bringing a bit of bougie rejuvenation to an erstwhile "destination street" that sorely needs it. This is where High Yaki by the Sea is as well as Basement Never Sleeps, a new nightclub from former Arkham and Le Baron concerns. We went down during the day earlier this week and it's already buzzing with grandmas and grandpas standing in front of things and taking pictures.

And slightly more spiffy grandmas and grandpas in places like Mozzerella E Vino taking pictures of the food.

If the success of Alimentari has indicated anything, it's that Shanghai has no dearth of appetite for delis that are also restaurants that are also places to drink bottles of cheap wine and eat charcuterie. From an established cheese merchant Dr. Cheese, Mozzerrella E Vino is exactly that, with their two specialties right there in the title. The look is the same: unobtrusive, pan Euro-ish woods and bricks. Ideal for casual wines, solo laptop sessions, brunch, brunch, and brunch, and dates in which you don't know if you like the person just yet.

On the menu: Mozzerrella e Vino diverges from Alimentari in that they go deep in the paint on cheese almost exclusively -- over 60 varieties available -- and the food menu veers to the Danish, with a range of Danish-style pancakes and open faced sandos, along with the standard Western brunch stuff. The also have a full page of burrata options. We had the "Coppa Ham Burrata Cheese", coming with figs, and it was indeed righteous.

For wines, they have a full cellar of French, Italian, and everything else in the price range of yeah-lets-get-two-bottles-of-this to that part of the menu where your eyes just glaze over and then you flip back to the cheaper pages.

Damage: We did a big full brunch for two for like 300rmb. Not too bad. Thumbs up. One to consider if you want to explore a new old part of the city that you probably haven't considered in a while.


1189 Wuding Xi Lu, near Wanhangdu Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Amalia is a Jing'an-based bridge for China-Spanish relations with equal emphasis on an approachable Spanish food and drinks menu for people who might be new to the genre, and an atmosphere that is warm and inviting -- and leans into the party. Which is a long sentence to say that dinner is a jumping off point for sticking around and having fun. The venue offers casual communal dining, bar seating, a requisite wine cellar, and a VIP room (replete with KTV) in a Spanish style that shows off African and Arabic influences in the artwork a bit. It's nice. It's casual. It's comfortable.

Someone's a big flamenco fan and a handmade Amalia Ramirez guitar is prominently on display at the entrance to the venue. They are also planning on hosting in flamenco performers starting next month, every Thursday to Saturday — which sounds absolutely wonderful.

The kitchen is run by the former Sous Chef of Jean Georges and the menu is seasonally changing, and currently emphasizing hot tapas dishes (50rmb-150rmb), fancy cuts of pork (88rmb-168rmb), and some upscale paella options for winter (138rmb-198rmb). A fantastic oxtail paella stands out from our experience. As does the Octopus Choizo. As does the Cochinillo Asado, of course, (roast suckling pig), which was even cut with a plate by the man himself, Castille style. Traditional and impressive!

For drinks they have a signature list of traditional Spanish cocktails and variations thereof all priced at 88rmb, as well as a nice selection of wine that comes with a guy that tells you which nice wine you should be selecting.

Food was well done, drinks warm and boozy, but the service was really standout. Everyone was really warm and friendly and "oh you gotta try this, you gotta try this". Just a really nice experience.

And when I couldn't finish the pig they let me take the whole platter with me thereby imparting a great Shanghai memory. I'll always remember the time roosting down Zhenning Lu on a scooter with a full damn suckling pig platter in my arms.

Will be back when they get the flamenco performers in with a mighty thirst!


966 Kangding Lu, near Yanping Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Another new bar in Jing'an. On Kangding Lu at Yanping Lu.

For some people the bars in Jing'an are kinda hit-or-miss but at least there's one thing the area has going for it: venues are still appearing somewhat organically as opposed to opening all at once in some converted mini mall. That means you can find these small, unique neighborhood places with heart and character. That is what Juanito's is: a new one-room cocktail bar in Jing'an that we're recommending. Coming with heart and character from manager and mixologist John.

A Filipino transplant, you might recognize John as the bar manager from The Parrot night club and Italo. Both venues are from the Funka Group (Funkadeli), it's that sort of scene combined with regulars from the tight-knit Filipino community reflecting his own background. John is your host for your time there, serving cheap-ish, boozy, fun, and approachable Mescal-heavy cocktails and the odd complimentary shot of something interesting to keep things moving. There's a section of signature drinks which are twists on classics — different combinations of simple flavors — classics, 4 beers on draft, and a nifty selection of wines.

Music is reggae and chill-out. A little bit of everything. John says he tries to guess what the patrons might like to listen to. When I walked in he played a full Green Day album which...yeah, I can see that!

I guess!

For bar bites, you can get some cheap tacos from the Taco Taco next door and look out for their own menu which is launching at the end of February. They're planning classic Filipino dishes reworked as tapas style bar bites.

Damage: Fair prices! 68rmb for signature cocktails; 60rmb for classics; wine bottles start at 288rmb; draft beer is 50rmb. Driving home that neighborhood bar vibe, they've got lots of rotating specials. Ladies night on Thursdays is buy-one-get-one on all cocktails; every Sunday night is late night happy hour with reduced prices on all drinks from 9pm to midnight; Mondays is specials on mescal.

Thumbs up! Next time you're in the area sidle up to Juanito's and stay forever.