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Nolita, on the re-gentrified Dagu Lu has, just like the street, a few good things to offer but also a couple off-balance dishes that lack that vital spark of energy.

The restaurant is too bright, the music a little too clubby and the décor too chic to be a comfortable experience for everyone. Even the extensive menu is laced with a few over-egged quips in an endeavor to epitomize fine Italian cuisine. Our appetizers were also over-earnest.

Eggplant rolls with Mortadella and mozzarella (RMB68) are a pleasant combination of the key elements, but it’s slightly too rich and peppery for well-executed Italian antipasto. Better was the clean, truffle-dressed beef carpaccio with Parmesan (RMB88).

This heavy-flavors theme continues in the pastas. A pumpkin and caciocavallo cheese cappellacci with black truffle butter sauce (RMB78) is a creamy cacophony of cheesy and truffle flavours in which the delicate pumpkin ravioli struggles for a voice. The pizzas give their all and come through much better. Nolita’s 30cm quattro stagioni option (RMB98), featuring artichokes, parma ham, peppers and mushrooms, is among the best in town for value and quality. The base is superbly thin with a crisp crust. The slices do sag a little, but at this size we’re not complaining.

Dessert offers a glimmer of ingenuity with a truly lip-smacking chocolate fondant (RMB48) served in a teacup à la mode. Why the cup? To ensure not a drop of the liquid chocolate oozes out and goes to waste. If you find yourself on Dagu Lu, Nolita offers a reasonably priced, or at least earnest, meal.

  • Nolita
  • 021 6302-7200

  • 422 Dagu Lu near Shimen Yi Lu [map]
  • 上海市大沽路422号近石门一路

  • Italian
  • ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
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