Oozing luxury, this recently renovated spot has the five-star ambiance and high-end service of a seriously swanky Italian restaurant. Issimo is still working on one thing: phenomenal food. Perched over Nanjing Dong Lu, with more designer furniture than Design Republic and recently helmed by Michelin-star chef Stefano Pace, our expectations were perhaps too high.
This is because Issimo could be in the gastronomic-epicenter of any city in the world. It’s a step out of Shanghai, and to prove it, you’re led to your table past bowls of lush vine-ripened tomatoes and bell peppers. Quaffing a glass of Riesling (RMB88), watching Pace in the open kitchen, you’re gearing up for the big league.
Sourcing is clearly on point with supreme antipasto cuts (RMB98) and salmon carpaccio (RMB128). The mozzarella burrata atop the cherry tomato and basil bruschetta (RMB68) is to die for. Sitting with a generous plate of meaty yet succulent calamari and king prawns (RMB68), the Pudong skyline feels a thousand miles away.
Italian food is, alas, not all just about the produce. In the overly salty pumpkin ravioli (RMB108) and too-stringy spatchcock spring chicken (RMB148) the sheen fades. Those should have been easy. Easier still should have been the offerings from the wood-fired oven. We must admit a certain penchant for pizza temples, and the thought of Issimo’s copper-lined beauty had us rather excited. Unfortunately, the day’s doughy prosciutto pizza (RMB158) seemed to be worshipping a Ciabatta god.
Sometimes it’s the case with great but not perfect restaurants that appetizers outweigh the mains. The next time we’re here it’ll be to nibble on calamari and burrata while knocking back a cold pint of Stella (RMB58).