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  • 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.

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SMARTREVIEWS

SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.

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