Bella Vita Bistrò Serving Up a Taste of Bella Italia

By Sophie Steiner, January 11, 2022

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The Place 

The fourth (yup, you read that correctly: fourth) China outpost of Bella Vita opened in Hengshan Fang in mid-October as a split-level Italian bistro plus expansive, sunny 40-seater patio. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

After the inaugural location kicked off in Tianjin in 2011, owner and Italian native Samuele Rossi (previously Chef de Cuisine at Grand Hyatt Beijing and Executive Sous Chef at MGM Macau) expanded next into Florentia Village in Pudong; 2019 saw Bella Vita grow into its Foshan digs, while the newest addition in downtown Shanghai features an emphasized ‘foodie focus.’ 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Think imported, high-end ingredients, homemade everything (pretty much a requirement for opening a successful Italian restaurant in Shanghai these days) and a lofty 70+ bottle Italian wine list spanning entry to expert palates (and price points to match). The wine list itself is curated by wine enthusiast and restaurant manager Alex Wang (previously of Tavola and 8 1/2 Otte e Mezzo Bombana), a man experienced in and passionate about Italian wines. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The conventional, pan-Italian menu is curated by chef Andrea Botti, a man who – for Bella Vita – left the Maldives to move to Shanghai this past summer. If leaving one of the most beautiful places on Earth doesn’t demonstrate utter dedication to deliver the absolute best, we don’t know what does. 

Aside from traditional Italian cuisine and wine, the menu also showcases a lineup of Italian aperitifs and cocktails, designed by Italian bartender Filippo Sanchi (The Rosewood Hotel, Guangzhou), available all day.

From business lunch specials to soon-to-launch afternoon tea sets to evening libations, Bella Vita covers all of the promised bistro bases. 

The Food 

While the rest of Shanghai seems to be riding the fusion train, Bella Vita jumps on the scene to dig deep into hyper-traditional, uber-authentic cooking. The menu starts out with a full selection of imported meats and cheeses – gorgonzola with figs and toasted walnuts, 24 months Parma ham, fresh burrata and the like – before moving into meat and seafood heavy antipasti. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Our favorite of the bunch is Baccala Mantecato (RMB118) – shredded codfish steeped in milk, cream and aromatics, like bay leaf and star anise, then formed into three delicate quenelles crowned with fried polenta crisps, radicchio and a balsamic drizzle. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Frittura di Pesce (RMB138) offers up an array of deep-fried calamari, prawns, mackerel, sardines and vegetables in a ‘to-go’ cone reminiscent of summer walks along the Mediterranean coast. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

All of the pastas are made fresh daily, with the signature Spaghetti alla Chitarra Cacio e Pepe (RMB118) showcasing thin, ribbon-like strands bathed in a gloppy cheese-laden and black pepper-speckled cream. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The restaurant may be best embodied by the Tagliatelle con Ragu e Porcini (RMB118) – al dente egg tagliatelle slick with a meaty ragu and springy porcini mushrooms. No frills, all flavor. 

Tortellini in Brodo, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Tagliata di Manzo Wagyu (RMB498) won’t win any awards for nuance, but we will be hard pressed to forget the way the piquant chimichurri soaked into the succulent grilled and smoked Australian Wagyu M5 beef flank, served with a rocket salad and fried country potatoes. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A classic stew of veal tripe with 36-month Parmigiano Reggiano is presented as the Trippa Alla Parmigiana (RMB188) soaking in a tomato stew and garnished with polenta crisps.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Decadent in thickness and depth of sinful richness, the Tenerina Con Gelato al Pistacchio e Amarena (RMB68) is a warm and fluffy chocolate cake, interspersed with chocolate ganache, and flanked by a heaping scoop of pistachio gelato and saccharine black cherries. 

The Vibe 

Bella Vita lives by the motto, “enjoying Italian cuisine is more experiential, not intellectual.” Here, they want to keep it simple, giving their guests exactly what they expect, in a cozy, familiar setting fit for celebrating special occasions, going on a nice date or engaging in a business dinner. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Price: RMB300-RMB500
Who’s Going: Pasta lovers, curious Italian expats, wine industry-ers
Good For: Aperitivo sessions, Italian date nights and business dinners

See a listing for Bella Vita Bistrò.

Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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