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Bocca, a new fine dining addition set on the Bund next to the new el Willy, is only a few steps away from delivering the quintessential high-end experience.

The restaurant carries an elite swagger, with an alluring bar by the entrance surrounded by their extensive 220-label wine list. Unfortunately, designers Zerolaboffice seem to have been more concerned with slapping the Bocca logo all over the ceiling than paying attention to acoustics. You’ll need to scoot close to your date to have a conversation, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

The soft opening menu we tasted covers a couple of options for each course. Executive chef David Bassan, returning to Shanghai after stints elsewhere in Asia, is developing the kitchen along with the menu. He’s put together an all-star lineup that includes mouth-watering 24-month aged Parmesan cheese, San Daniele ham and black cattle carpaccio. We opted for an oversize Caprese (RMB148) with rewarding slabs of what is no doubt Shanghai’s best buffalo mozzarella, deliciously hearty tomatoes and wispy molecular basil foam.

Proceedings lost their edge slightly with the swordfish paccheri (RMB118). Such large ribbons of pasta do not marry well with the salty-firm morsels of fish. The supremely tender Angus fillet tenderloin (RMB388) was fantastic. However, at this price, we expect as much, and the plate feels empty with only a handful of potato cubes and a mini-bowl of beans keeping the cut company. Desserts are pleasingly experimental with a contrasting smooth and crunchy ricotta cheese cannoli (RMB68).

These are great times for Shanghai’s high end Italian restaurants. Like bus passengers, we wait and wait and three come along at once. If others weren’t so strong we’d probably be crowning Bocca as the new prince. But the others are, so we look forward to Bassan further upping his game.

  • Bocca
  • 021 6328-6598

  • 22 Zhong Shan Dong Er Lu [map]
  • 上海市中山东二路22号5楼

  • Italian
  • ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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