Shanghai Restaurant Review: Yongkang Italian Osteria La Baracca

By Sophie Steiner, October 27, 2020

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The Place

Image courtesy of Graeme Kennedy

La Baracca, brought to us by The Camel Group, is an Italian osteria on the now cafe-filled Yongkang Lu. Just like your neighborhood European cafe they are offering up everything from grab-and-go pastries and Yunnan-sourced coffee beverages in the morning to a full menu of pizzas, charcuterie boards and antipastos for lunch and dinner. And then there's the stellar lineup of 16 spritzes to choose from for just RMB50 and an inviting, budget-friendly wine list. Hello round-the-clock Happy Hour. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Food

The straightforward menu leans Italian/Italian-American with no major surprises, but we are never not in the mood for cheese and Italian meat atop carbs in all forms – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The ultimate after work snack comes in the way of the Antipasto Platter (RMB218) – easily a meal for two or snacks for four. Two large wooden trays are stacked to the brim with a selection of meats (prosciutto, mortadella and salami) as well as a rotating selection of four different cheeses. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

This comes accompanied with olives, caramelized onions, honey, chutney, fresh bread and herbed goat cheese stuffed bell lantern peppers that are so damn good we understand why they separated those out as their own menu item. There is a 100% chance you will order more. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Moving down the menu to the carbs, the Maple Glazed Apple & Blue Cheese Pizza with Bacon (RMB68 for 8-inch, RMB128 for 12-inch) uses Napoli pizza flour for a noteworthy crust compared to others around the city. The crisp and slightly charred outside hugs a pillowy soft, bready inside, making you momentarily forget about the actual toppings. Just momentarily. And then…cheeeeese. All that tangy, funky goodness of blue cheese, mellowed out by sweet, crisp apple slices and bacon. Because bacon makes everything better. Fact of life. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Artichoke & Burrata Pizza (RMB68 for 8-inch, RMB128 for 12-inch) – pizzas here come in two sizes, based on if you plan to share or devour an entire pie on your own – is for those focusing on increasing dairy consumption in their diet. As avid cheese fans, we always fall into that category – always – making each gooey morsel of a bite that much closer to accomplishing our diet goals.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Calzone (RMB68) stuffed with broccoli, mozzarella and bechamel sauce is everything you want out of a calzone and then some. At this point, pizza shops in Shanghai are a dime a dozen, but a legit calzone, that is hard to find – unless you come to La Baracca. 

A hoagie-sized pocket of doughy bread is bursting at the seams with molten lava cheese and crunchy broccoli, ideal for smearing with tangy red sauce. Word on the street is that the fall specials will include a salami and cheese stuffed calzone for the carnivores. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

On a lighter note, the Pesto Caprese (RMB60 or RMB78 with roasted chicken) is simple, a classic salad that makes for a healthy lunch or dinner option. The pesto could be a bit more herbaceous, and the seasoning skewed salty, but if it’s a standard salad you’re going for, this is a well-balanced option. 

Image courtesy of Graeme Kennedy

Outside of mains, carrying on in the Pain Chaud tradition (the popular French bakery occupied the space before La Baracca), pastries are baked fresh each morning and are available until sold out. We’re talking the usual suspects – croissants, apple turnovers, pain au chocolate, cranberry twists and, our favorite, the double chocolate croissant, which seems to have been invented purely for dipping in a steaming cup of joe. La Baracca brews theirs on the Victoria Arduino Eagle One coffee machine – a coffee fanatics wet dream, apparently. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

There are also grab-and-go sandwiches on fresh-baked ciabatta that make for an easy lunch or snack option, depending on your appetite. We're fans of the Pear & Goat Cheese (RMB40) with caramelized onions and honey, but will never turn down the Prosciutto & Fresh Mozzarella (RMB48) with pesto, arugula (or rocket, for those from the British Isles and Down Under) and tomato. Pro tip: Although sandwiches find their home inside the glass display case alongside the pastries, they can always be made to order (unlike the other baked goods) for whenever that sandwich craving hits. 

Image courtesy of Graeme Kennedy

Aside from the fairly tight menu of about 20 items, seasonal specials will kick in soon. We're looking forward to a few fall-inspired pastas, some antipasto bites, a seasonal spritz or two and new wines. 

The wine list, like the food menu, is succinct and to the point, and, similar to the spritz prices, is essentially happy hour all day long. A glass of wine goes for around RMB35 with sparkling for RMB40 and bottles in the RMB180 range. 

Food Verdict: 2.25/3

The Vibe

Image courtesy of Graeme Kennedy

Unlike a few of the openings on Yongkang Lu, this is not the  newest, trendiest concept restaurant begging KOLs to bang down the doors. In fact, it’s the opposite – an ideal neighborhood hangout in a street filling up with the chillest of cool hangouts. It’s not a one-time-stop-in-and-snap-photos-to-plaster-the-Instagram-feed-with, but rather, where we’d actually choose to meet up with a friend for drinks and charcuterie after work, or for a coffee and croissant on a lazy Sunday morning (that may or may not spill over into a spritz-filled afternoon). 

Image courtesy of Graeme Kennedy

Vibe Verdict: 1.5/2

Total Verdict: 3.75/5

Price: 50-150RMB
Who’s Going: Yongkang Lu-ers, caffeine fiends, the expat lunch and after work crowd
Good For: Friendly catch-ups, casual date nights, spritz consumption

See a listing for La Baracca. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover Image courtesy of Graeme Kennedy]

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