La Tagliatella is a faithful rendition of an Italian-themed tourist restaurant. It has enough seating to host the mall-walking masses, clichés all over the walls and a wide selection of slightly overpriced, slightly nefarious pizza and pasta.
Set in Hongkou’s recently opened Ruifeng Plaza, La Tagliatelle’s cavernous dining room is centered by a large pizza oven and chefs turning sheets of fresh pasta. Every other surface is entirely covered with an overload of wood panels, mirrors, lamps, pictures, pasta related slogans and general Italian chintz.
The menu is an overload too. There are a dozen types of pasta and another eight of ravioli. Each can be combined with any of 15-plus sauces in seemingly limitless combinations from RMB78 to RMB108. We took a moment to do the math while tucking into a ‘Torre Pisa’ stack of aubergine, tomato and buffalo mozzarella (RMB68). With frozen-in-the-centre cheese and limp tomato, we wished we had stayed focused.
We paired gorgonzola and pear ravioli with a creamy tomato and pine nut pesto rossa (RMB108). The result was a battle of flavors with well-stuffed triangles in a complex sauce. It worked quite well though became ultimately heavy given the large portion.
Pizzas are more straightforward on the senses but that doesn’t help. An almost scandalous prosciutto pizza (RMB78, pictured above) comes not with prosciutto but circles of cheap boiled ham. Bases are thin and crisp enough, but at this price they come nowhere close to the quality of Bella Mia’s. Avoid the domed Toscana calzone (RMB88), a cake-like experience of soggy dough, bland ham and tomato contents and overly sweet balsamic glaze.
If this were a second or third tier city, we’d be here every week and probably bring relatives too. But we’re in Shanghai, where the bar is set much higher.