The buzz: New Italian restaurant, describing itself as “New York Italian dining”.
The décor: Slightly sparse and sterile for a place trying to emulate a New York vibe. We were expecting something a little brighter and more upbeat. The severe, square tables and stark walls seem to imply fine dining, which this place certainly isn’t.
The food: Overall, unimpressive. The best thing was the pasta e fagiole soup (45 RMB) – a hearty bowl of tomato broth packed with pasta and beans. Everything else was disappointing, particularly the gorgonzola and walnut bruschetta (18 RMB). It was dry and cold, nothing like the taste sensation we were hoping for.
For the main course we went for the lasagne (68 RMB) and the 10 inch pizzarustica (85 RMB). We felt that these prices were rather high compared to other Italian places in town, but anticipated that the quality would be impressive enough to warrant them. The pizza was very good – thin, crispy base holding masses of cheese, artichokes, olives, and broccoli – but 85 RMB is far too expensive, especially since other high-end pizzerias charge less for bigger pies.
The lasagne was incredibly strange. I was expecting a classic layered fornodish, with minced beef Bolognese sandwiched between sheets of pasta and white sauce. What arrived was a mulch of sweet tomato sauce, covering pasta which alternated between dry and soggy. To my surprise, the meat looked like slices of processed meatloaf, and tasted like it. A New York twist on a classic, perhaps? Not that we can glean from googling it…
What makes things all the stranger is that the head chef is actually from New York, so it’s not as if we can put it down to Chinese cooks who don’t know any better.
Another off-putting element is the brace of black-clad waitresses who loom like miniature Grim Reapers, watching for the chance to pounce (props to the French waitress, though – she was super-friendly, and promised to pass on our comments to the chef).
The drinks: A bar runs down one side of the restaurant, serving spirits, wines and beers. The wine list was a little uninspiring, so we went for draft beer which was on offer at 2-for-1, making it 18 RMB per 300cl glass.
Why you’ll be back: Personally, we won’t be rushing back, but if you want to try it, go for it. We dined for just under 300 RMB with two drinks, so it’s an okay option if you’re going mid-range. Maybe the atmosphere will pick up, and they’ll stop with the meatloaf lasagne. We hope so.