First we’ll clear this up: Salvatore Cuomo is a chef. He has Italian restaurants in Japan, where he apparently enjoys celebrity status. And no, we’ve never heard of him either – but his restaurant experience does seem to bring a bit of polish to this new Pudong Italian. The interior of The Kitchen is clean and modern, centered around a woodfire pizza oven, an open kitchen where chefs tend to bubbling baskets of pasta, and a handsome bar.
The menu at The Kichen is appealing – the servers spout the Italian names of pizzas and starters and suggest wines from their varied, if slightly spendy, list. We started with some well-mixed cocktails and a order of clams in a thin olive oil and white wine broth with small bits of flavorless crab. The clams were fresh and tender, but the broth was underseasoned, with just a hint of olive oil peeking through the fishy brine. A thin pizza followed, with a deliciously elastic crust, cheese, artichokes, black olives and parma ham.
And while the pizza was good, the pastas were ordinary. Tender chunks of beef cheek in the bucatini pasta were excellent, but the sauce was bland. And a large piece of sole cooked in the wood oven was served sloppily in a tin foil bag brimming with sauce and studded with bones. It was fishy in the unpleasant sense, and the cherry tomatoes, olives and capers did little to bring it off the bottom. The Kitchen will undoubtedly be full, as it was on our visit, due to its slick look and great real estate. Whether diners will return remains a mystery.