Oodles of Noodles: A Shanghai Pasta A-Z List

By Sophie Steiner, August 12, 2021

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We’ve eaten a lot of carbs lately. Not just any carbs though; arguably the best kind – noodles. The most tasteful of noods, if you will. Here’s our A to Z list covering some of our favorite pasta finds around Shanghai lately. 

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

An extension of the 3 Michelin Star venue (of the same name) in Hong Kong, Chef Bombana and Sicilian-born Executive Chef Riccardo La Perna have recreated the lux, fine dining affair on the North Bund at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana – a now 2 Michelin Star venue. About six months ago, Chef Gabriele Delgrossi joined the team in Shanghai after moving down from Beijing, bringing with him years of expertise. 

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The entire experience here is pure indulgence, with the highest quality of ingredients being thrown wherever they will stick. Your WeChat balance will take a hit for that, but every shameless bite of expertly executed everything makes it worth it. The restaurant currently offers a RMB698 4-course lunch set, as well as a rotating selection of a la carte starters, pastas, mains and desserts. 

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Seasonal Yunnan-grown porcini mushrooms and parmigina are stuffed inside cloud-like, freshly made Agnolotti, a Piedmont region specialty, similar to ravioli. Using made-fresh-daily egg pasta, the homemade dumplings are tossed in an herbaceous parsley and parmesan sauce, glistening slices of tender roasted porcinis adorn the top, mimicking meat. Despite the use of bold, earthy flavors, each unique element comes together in a delicate bite – a common thread of thoughtful, refined elegance that runs through the entire meal. 

See a listing for 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

Azul Italiano 

Azul Italiano is an Italian-inspired concept in the events space above the new Colca on the North Bund. Emphasis on the ‘inspired.’ The goal is not to serve traditional Italian dishes, but rather use this carb-loving country’s cuisine as a jumping off point for taking creative liberties that appeal more to the Chinese palate.

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Roasted cherry tomatoes peek out between cylindrical strands of black pasta, seasoned with spicy prawn oil, shiso leaves nori and – most importantly – big meaty chunks of tender crab meat in the Red Crab Pasta (RMB128). 

See a listing for Azul Italiano

La Baracca

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. 

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The Seafood Pasta (RMB110) is an ocean-filled bowl of clams, mussels, shrimp and prawns all smothered in a garlicky olive oil sauce. Tossed together with chewy spaghetti noodles, this is a dish we can see ourselves crushing, no matter the season. 

See a listing for La Baracca

Bisou 

BISOU, a casual yet sleek French restaurant, opened in Taikang Terrace this past April with a lot of warranted buzz, as one of the partners is a well-known media mogul. Despite the classically French menu, Bisou is laid back, with a dining-in-your-friend’s-living-room feel... if your friend happened to have a beyond impressive wine cellar and a critically-acclaimed chef on hand.

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Comfort food bliss is a warm bowl of Beef Cheek Pasta (RMB98). Expertly al dente homemade pappardelle noodles encircle slowly braised beef cheek chunks soaked in a thick tomato paste. A moat of shaved parmesan cheese acts as a perimeter, but quickly liquifies into an added layer of creamy indulgence. Not feeling the meat, the Truffle Pappardelle (RMB118) is sinfully thick, with meat-like chunks of braised mushrooms and a buttery lashing of truffle cream. 

See a listing for BISOU

Casa Mia

After relocating from its hidden spot behind Donghu Lu to the more findable Fuxing Lu Blackstone Apartments location, Casa Mia has continued to serve up a simple menu of traditional Italian fare plus an expansive wine list. The husband and wife owner duo hail from Wenzhou, but spent a stint in Italy, which spurred their restaurant.

Similar to the previous location, there still isn't much of a menu, just a blackboard listing a few items (more of a menu than there used to be, to be fair). Service is on the gruff side, unless you're a high rolling regular, but the place is always rammed, because who doesn't love an exclusive atmosphere. Reservations are a must. 

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The Tagliolini (RMB98) is one of the three signature homemade pastas – thin and ribbon-like, bathed in a shredded crab meat, 'fungi Bolognese pesto' sauce – as they call it. More of an oily seafood-forward jus if you ask us (with no pesto to be found), the dish is fresh and light (especially when compared to the stale table bread) with ample crab meat.

The plate is not necessarily traditional Italian, but other more conventional options, like ravioli and lasagna, are also on offer. 

See a listing for Casa Mia

D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana

D.O.C. offers Italian specialties deemed exquisite by the legally binding, namesake term: Denominazione di Origine Controllata. In plain English, this translates to artisanal Italian foods grown in a specified region using defined methods and meeting high quality standards. (Think Champagne labels, but with more fingertip kissing and rolling ‘r’s.) These ingredients, stamped with Italy’s seal of approval, are inevitably turned into tasty dishes. 

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Simple, authentic Italian flavors are where D.O.C. shines. Point in case – the Pappardelle al Ragu (RMB130). Wide, homemade pappardelle strips are cooked fresh to order, topped with melt-in-your-mouth chunks of 24-hour marinated and braised Uruguayan oxtail.

The zippy tomato sauce is made from pizza oven-roasted vegetables that are slow-cooked down for hours into a rich stew-like ragu of sorts, topped with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. This is the kind of pasta you need in your life when carbs on the couch are the only answer. 

See a listing for D.O.C Gastronomia Italiana

Frasca 

Frasca takes its name from the symbolic hanging branches that were used to welcome passers-by for quality refreshments in Friuli, the multiethnic region in the very northeast of Italy. A casual and inviting place, people come here to enjoy some of the most authentic Italian food available in the city.

After welcoming new Chef de Cuisine Lorenzo Merolle to the team last month, Frasca’s already stellar menu has received an upgrade. With over 20 years of experience working in Rome, London, Miami, Sydney and Shanghai, Lorenzo brings his own take on classic Italian dishes to the table. 

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Basil-studded homemade 'spaghetti' is topped with all manner of sea creatures as the Scialatielli Al Fruitti Di Mare (RMB228). An ocean of Mont St. Michel blue mussels, New Zealand scampi and clams, and Argentinian calamari cover the top.

Made with an actual chitarra – a square, wooden box with metal wires running lengthwise, similar in appearance to a guitar – gives this style of noodle it's name, and is used in slicing them into their rope-like shape.

See a listing for Frasca

Il Ristorante – Niko Romito 

Bulgari Hotel’s Italian One Michelin star restaurant, Il Ristorante – Niko Romito, just kicked off its Taste of Summer menu, a lighter alternative featuring seasonal produce, refreshing flavors and greens aplenty. 

Showcasing how versatile seasonal ingredients can be, the venue is further proving its motto that 'less is more.' Each dish utilizes only three main ingredients, but does so in a variety of ways to truly honor all parts of each plate. 

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The classic Italian staple lasagna is reimagined in vegetarian form as the Vegetable Lasagna (RMB340) with homemade sheets of firm pasta hugging a mix of leeks, green peas, asparagus and spinach. A light parmesan cheese emulsion and herb infusion adds a balanced herbaceous creaminess. 

See a listing for Il Ristorante – Niko Romito

Italo Tratorria

Italo has rebranded as Italo Trattoria, your neighborhood go-to Italian joint for back-to-the-basics cooking with a modern thread. A combination of bringing chef Lucky Lasagna on board, revamping the cocktail list, plus upping the service game by welcoming Sebastian Dallee (previously of Heritage by Madison) to the Funka team as group GM has given the entire space a totally new feel, with incredibly delicious Italian food at honest prices. 

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The Linguine alle Vongole (RMB88) is the bite that will bring us back time and again – thick strands of noodles are speckled with rich bottarga, bringing a seafood layer of salinity to the dish that is further accentuated by plump clams and an unexpected, but purposeful nip of chili. 

See a listing for Italo Trattoria

La Scala

La Scala, a highlight of The Sukhothai, is a beacon of style for those who appreciate the fine art that is Italian dining. Since joining the kitchen team last summer, Executive Chef Antonio Corsaro is wowing us season after season, with everything from classic dishes – inspired by his Italian-roots cooking – to creative fusion favorites drawing upon experience garnered throughout his 17-year career that has spanned Italy to Paris, London to Singapore. 

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Regardless of your background, Handmade Oxtail Pappardelle Alla Vaccinara (RMB288) is what you want on a cold day (hell, we'll take it in the Shanghai heat as well!) Equal parts lux and lush, this dish sees tender, slow-braised oxtail mixed with bone marrow, tomato paste and a sprinkle of raw cacao to cut through the fattiness. Whorling pappardelle noodles encircle the meat, gracefully resting on a pecorino cream sauce. 

See a listing for La Scala

Mercato

Celebrity chef Jean Georges' Italian outpost in Shanghai, Mercato, continues to set the Bund standard since opening almost a decade ago. Woodfire oven pizzas, homemade pasta, soft ricotta cheese with seasonal jam, and bright seafood cover the menu, along with Italian desserts aplenty and oh-so-many wines to choose from. This is a staple when it comes to luxury Italian dining, yet it's also worth it for the food, experience and that unmatchable Bund view. 

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Pork, veal and beef all go into making our favorite meatballs in the city, an integral part of the Rigatoni and Meatballs (RMB158). Reflecting Jean Georges' signature style, the sauce is a smoked chipotle and tomato ragu, decorated with freshly shaved pecorino romano, crispy panko flecks and parsley. The cylindrical noodles are delightfully chewy, making it obvious that they are made fresh daily, resulting in a simple yet elegant bowl of utter bliss. 

See a listing for Mercato

Mr Willis 

Mr Willis is a warm, inviting kitchen-dining room offering casual, Aussie-influenced bistro fare. The place feels like an artist’s loft – the apartment you always wanted. While Willis’ loves his roasts – like the best of Australian Dry Aged Beef, Shanghai’s favorite roast chicken and fresh seafood – his restaurants are also recognized for delicious rustic pastas, pizzas and desserts, served family style, and that taste like home.

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A portion big enough for a family of four, the Lasagne Alla Bolognese (RMB118) is a lofty layered forkful of stewed Australian beef, dried tomatoes, smoked bacon and thick slabs of mushroom, all smothered in a creamy bechamel sauce and a generous heap of shaved parmesan. Bonus: this same towering stack of lasagna is also available at La Strada downstairs in the same building.

See a listing for Mr Willis

Pici 

Pici, a Hong Kong chain that just expanded to Shanghai as part of the Pirata Group, fits right in to the food scene, as if it always existed here. Located in the Jing’an Kerry Centre, the made-fresh-daily pasta at wallet-friendly prices makes up for the fact that you’re in a mall basement. 

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The concept is as straightforward as the food – honest Italian comfort eats your nonna would make in a fast, casual setting to satisfy both the lunch and dinner crowd. 

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One bite of the chewy turtle-shell shaped Orcchiette ‘Nduja (RMB118) could make us forget we were just about anywhere... along with our name, date of birth and future ambitions – it’s hard to see past the next mouthfeel of something so delicious.

Spicy ‘nduja sausage softens into a sauce that affords this dish its signature orange color. Stewed cherry tomatoes add a bright tang, while crumbly chunks of Italian sausage add a new dimension of salt, spice and everything nice.

See a listing for Pici.

Scarpetta

As one of Shanghai’s most popular Italian restaurants, Scarpetta holds its status as a culinary institution. Although the menu had only changed minimally since previous chef Patrick Leano moved to Singapore, this past winter saw a major revamp, with quite a few new dishes introduced, including a handful of new pastas.

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Pure luxury arrives tableside in the form of Lobster Pappardelle (RMB368) served with an addictingly thick tomato vodka sauce, stretchy straciatella cheese dotted with basil oil, sundried tomatoes and a smattering of fresh, torn basil. The succulent lobster claws make it obvious why this is one of their top orders on Dianping. 

See a listing for Scarpetta

Seve

Known for their al fresco patio overlooking Huashan Lu, Seve is the place for trueborn Italians living in Shanghai. After opening its doors eight years ago, this streetside high-end Italian bistro offers diners a traditional taste of Italian cuisine. Chef Fabio Camilloni is currently consulting and managing the menu, updating for seasonality, while still keeping the classics. Pro tip: definitely order the pizza if you're not too full stuffing your face with pasta. 

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Slowly braised veal belly is stewed with herbs and minced before being rolled up into homemade pasta dumplings, rather than the more expected ravioli. The Cappelacci Ripiene di Vitello (RMB128) is like a cap-shaped version of a Bologna tortellini, nestled in a thick 24-month aged parmesan cream and egg fondue, topped with a sprinkle of crushed pistachios.

The longer aged cheeses are dryer, making for a richer-flavored sauce. During fall, when white truffles are in season, the dish is accented by this earthy fungus. 

See a listing for Seve

SOiF 

The cozy natural wine bar that seemed to set off Shanghai’s never satiated wine bar craze, SOiF sports a tight menu of well-curated cheeses, home-cured meats, pickled everything and all-around expertly executed dishes that – no surprise here – pair perfectly with wine. Although the food isn’t the main focus, according to co-owner Francois Seguin (it is first and foremost a wine bar) we beg to differ, since we’ve yet to have a non-standout bite. 

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There is literally nothing more homey than a warm bowl of Sausage Bolognese (RMB88), a humble plate of bouncy Italian casarecce noodles smothered in a sausage-laden tangy tomato sauce. Delicately thin slices of in-house made squid ink pork salami cover the dish in a meaty polka dot pattern. 

See a listing for SOiF

Yaya’s

Chef Dan Li (previously of Bird), Andrew Moo (Taste Collective, Le Daily) and Mike Liu (Lucky Mart) just launched a test ‘R&D’ popup kitchen in X Bar for their new project, Yaya’s.  Named after the Chinese word for ‘tooth,’ the goal is to serve perfectly al dentetoothsome pasta, with that springy chew you’d expect from an Italian restaurant, but incorporating evidently Chinese flavor profiles. 

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Sounds like something that would come out of the trendiest Brooklyn backstreet, but only in a city like Shanghai does the successful execution actually come to fruition, resulting in a bastardization of multiple cuisines, in the tastiest of ways. 

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Pure tomato inception is the only way to describe the Paccheri Marinara (RMB48), a labor of love that involves caramelizing the sh*t out of three different kinds of tomatoes – cherry, Chinese heirloom and an imported Italian canned variety used by most Michelin chefs. 

The liquids and solids are first separated – a process that chef Dan has mastered to the point of peeling over seven kilos of tomatoes per hour – reduced down into a thick stew with wine, and then filtered so the rounded richness is accented by tannic minerality.

The final product is some #basicbitch goodness that seems so simple, but you can taste the work that goes into it, as it glazes tubular noodles that deserve a double ‘c’ in thickness. 

See a listing for Yaya's.



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[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]


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