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Set at the other end of Anfu Lu opposite The Center, this new Italian restaurant offers a lively atmosphere, a quirky menu and reasonable food that won’t break the bank.

Italian Kitchen 26, also known as Seasalt, is of the Italian-by-numbers mold. There are wine boxes stacked in the corners, stock photos of Vespas on the walls and chalkboards hanging from the ceiling. Japanese owned, the restaurant’s décor is only just on the right side of cliché, and when all of the six or so tables are occupied, has a satisfying appeal.

Once you get over the confusion of being given multiple menus and the restaurant’s clear penchant for the number 26, the food options are rather simple. They offer a series of bite-sized appetizers, a few pasta dishes and a handful of mains.

Of the appetizers, our plate of calamari (RMB48) drizzled with lemon set a good tone with fresh squid cooked firm but not rubbery. Excellent, too, is the moussaka-like roasted eggplant layered with pork and tomato (RMB26). But skip the crab cakes with horseradish (RMB38); they’re bland and watery and a shame.

Mains are also slightly off-kilter. While a bowl of rocket and pesto fusilli (RMB48) has everything in the right order, it carries a “could have done this at home” feel to it. Similar is a couple of grilled king prawns (RMB58) which looked rather lonely without accompaniment. Fortunately, by dessert, proceedings are back underway with a delicious strawberry-topped panna-cotta (RMB32) and light tiramisu (RMB38).

Grab a glass of house red (RMB26), explore a few options on the small-bites menu and roll with it.

  • Italian Kitchen 26
  • 021 3302-4997

  • 2/F, 23 Anfu Lu [map]
  • 上海市安福路23号

  • Italian
  • ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
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