When Umberto Bombana set up Otto e Mezzo (8½) in Hong Kong, the gastronomic sphere went into frenzy. Michelin awarded it two stars in its first year, then another. History was made—it was the world’s first three-star restaurant outside of Europe.
Bringing his right-hand chefs, building contractor and a love for the truffle, Bombana has now come to Shanghai. As the first tenant of the new Rock Bund development, this could be where the Chinese Mainland truly embraces echelon Italian dining. Fully booked since its opening, it’s receiving an emphatic Shanghai welcome. Leaning on executive chef Alan Yu’s Shanghai experience, the menu is a fanfare of luxury ingredients, from 36-month aged bellota Iberico ham (RMB190) to Boston lobster tagliatelle (RMB190) to Oakleigh Ranch beef rib eye (RMB1,300).
For those who wish to follow Bombana’s select story, there’s a five-course degustation menu (RMB1,288 for two with wine pairings). Delicate wasabi themes flow through the masterpiece Napoleon of bluefin tuna. Balanced Parmesan and porcini gather amongst fine risotto. Heavy truffle and foie gras go head to head against perfectly succulent Wagyu Tajima tenderloin. It’s a narrative paralleling Fellini’s 1963 film, the restaurant’s namesake.
Topped by pastry chef Sohya Takahashi’s phenomenal apple tart and molecular petit fours, this is a story indeed. A chat with pasta specialist sous-chef Silvio Armanni confirms our only misgiving; a ravioli course would have added an overlooked chapter.
Is this Akelarre? No. Is it global Michelin quality cuisine served in a country not famous for it’s international-friendly produce, palate or refined service? Yes. Ranked against almost everywhere in Shanghai it’s very, very good. Five stars. Against other Michelins? Almost there. Perhaps this is a discussion to be had over a tremendously well-mixed cocktail (RMB80-120) at 8½’s seductive bar.