Fine Italian dining on the Bund. An expansive menu spans many regions of the boot, with the kind of down-to-earth, casual fare Italians might eat any day of the week. Standouts include the Tuscan chicken liver terrine and the pici alla Toscana. Pizzas are somewhere between thin crust and chewy Neapolitan-style. Decor has theater-inspired flourishes, like commedia dell'arte masks and rooms like "Sonetto", "Drama", and "Satira". And of course, with this address come prime views of the Huangpu River and Lujiazui. Unlike at the Colonel's house, you'll need to bring some cash, especially if wine gets involved.
If you’re looking for a dinner on the Bund, you probably have a few key criteria in mind. Atto Primo will almost certainly tick your boxes: it has an expansive and expensive wine list, prime prosciutto sold in 10g increments (minimum order 40g, though, to keep the peasants out), and a leather-bound menu packed with reassuring Italian classics.
We visited on a Saturday as a group of seven and ordered a good range of dishes. The entree selection was mixed. The focaccia carbonara and caprese salad were highlights, although the former was definitely not a focaccia – more of a pizzetta. The aforementioned prosciutto was also pristine – although I’d be shocked if it wasn’t, at 192rmb for a few translucent shavings. The insalata di mare, bruschetta and minestrone were firmly in Camp Average, and the burrata (148rmb) was a disappointment. Its accompanying roasted aubergine was oily and flavourless; even the cheese itself didn’t sing. Really – it’s hard to mess up burrata.
The only main course that I can recommend is the beef cheek (228rmb) – beautifully tender and rich, but accompanied by a soulless disc of polenta. The rest of the mains were forgettable. If I hadn’t taken a picture of the receipt, I wouldn’t have been able to name them. Veal Milanese (a preposterous 328rmb) and saltimbocca were both tasty, corner-cafe-level plates. Pastas and risottos (we tried the agnoletti monferrini, ziti al sugo di costine di maiale, and a mushroom risotto) were average, bordering on dry. My baked sardine dish with fennel (148rmb) lacked punch and depth. Even the desserts were unsatisfying: the tiramisu (68rmb) had a good soaking of strong espresso... to the point that the bottom of the bowl was swimming in it.
There was nothing offensively wrong with the food at Atto Primo. For these prices, though (we paid around 520rmb each for food, excluding drinks), we expected to be blown away. The service was patchy, too: my wine was taken before I’d finished, for example, and one of the mains was brought with the entrees. For an impressive Bund dinner at the same sort of price point, I’d always choose Mr & Mrs Bund instead.
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