Grazie! Just the place for a taste of Italy
At Bella Vita Bistro, Italy's beloved culinary classics from all regions are to be savored, accented with quality seasonal ingredients.
The newly-opened bistro on Tianping Road is housed in a two-level building with a lovely patio for the moments of dolce vita. Owner Samuele Rossi, from the Veneto region, proudly kicked off this fourth outpost of Bella Vita in Shanghai after running the brand for a decade.
Previously an executive sous chef at the MGM Macau and the Grand Hyatt Beijing, Rossi wanted to bring back tradition to Bella Vita: "Qualitytraditions in your plate."
"Shanghai has become one of the top culinary cities in the world which has been recognized by the Michelin guide for the past years by giving stars to many passionate and hard working restaurateurs," Rossi said.
"There are Da Vittorio Shanghai and 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana guiding our Italian category being recognized by the guide and the rest of Italian restaurants in town have their own regional twists to make them special. By learning the market we've discovered that there was a section that was missing which was medium level – bistro level which made us to think of upgrading our existing project Bella Vita into Bella Vita Bistro," he added.
To complete the bistro concept, Rossi brought in Andrea Botti as chef de cuisine who left Maldives – his most recent role is with Amilia Fushi Maldives Resorts & Residences as chef de cuisine – to join the team last summer.
Hailing from Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna (the undisputed heartland of Italian cuisine), Botti brings with him more than 15 years of culinary experiences and solid skills in Italian cuisine.
The dishes created by Botti here are not fusion or exotic – they are traditional, sometimes updated, regional dishes from around Italy. They are beloved culinary classics accented with premium seasonal ingredients.
The food menu starts out with a selection of Italian cheese and cold cuts, including fresh burrata, 50- day aged "baruffaldi" gorgonzola with caramelized figs and toasted walnuts, 24-month-old Parma ham and 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano.
On to the antipasti: Every dish is packed with bountiful flavors and is a work of art in its own right, which requires great attention to details to execute well.
I picked the Baccala Mantecato, a classic Venetian dish.
Drained cod (cooked in milk broth with anis, bay leaves, onion and black pepper) is mashed with extra virgin olive oil and cream until smooth. Light and wonderfully fluffy. It is then made into quenelle and served with crispy polenta, pickled onion and balsamic drizzle.
If you love Mediterranean seafood, try their Frittura di Pesce (assorted fried seafood), a hugely popular dish found all over Italian coast.
One continues to explore the rich flavors of Italy by sampling their pasta dishes. Ferrara native Botti makes his region's famous Cappelletti in meat brodo (meat broth). The small meat-filled pasta is similar to Bologna's hat-shaped tortellini but round. Another must-try is the Spaghetti alla chitarra cacio e pepe, which is a most Roman pasta. Its very simplicity is what makes it attractive. The kitchen makes with a nice balance of pecornio and pepper. The home-made spaghetti has that perfect al dente bite.
The team changes the a la carte menu seasonally and offers monthly specials as well as degustation menus designed by chef Botti. "We want to give our customers a true Italian experience from business lunch to afternoon tea; Italian aperitif to a complete dinner meal," said Rossi.
Opening hours: 11am-11:30pm
Address: 318 Tianping Road
Average price: 450 yuan (US$71)