Set under the Wheelock Square Tower, Sabatini’s threshold marks a line between China modern and Italy classic. Like its sibling in Hong Kong, the decadent villa-esque dining room is appropriately furnished with lushly painted arches, well-dressed wait staff and enough silverware for all five courses. None of which feature a pizza.
Instead, you’ll find a strain of fine Italian dining that has earned Sabatini global praise. In the hands of executive chef Valentino Palmisano, the menu features signature dishes such as the linguine Sabatini (RMB168), a seafood-rich, al dente pasta, as well as more personalized dishes like the homemade, almost ribbon-like scialatielli with lobster and ricotta cheese (RMB168). There’s an attention to preparation to which Sabatini adheres with precision, as shown by the seared tuna salad with pomelo (RMB138)—it’s an applaudable construction.
The story, however, tells of a struggle. These are not yet the masterpieces that we’d expect of Sabatini’s 50-year heritage. The raw flavors are slightly too familiar. There isn’t cheese from a 100-year-old family dairy or seafood fresh from the local bay. However, Sabatini truly excels in one dish on the menu, the crispy suckling pig with red onion jam (RMB298). Cooked for 26 hours, it’s a succulent, delicious testament to what can happen when these Sabatini’s skilled hands find the right produce.
Faced with a sourcing challenge, Sabatini is clearly pushing the boundaries with what’s available. We’re looking forward to the next iterations of the menu with bated breath to see where fine-Italian cuisine is destined in Shanghai.
- 021 3127-8577
- 1/F, Wheelock Square, 1717 Nanjing Xi Lu [map]
- ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆