Bottega: Grabbing a Slice of Shanghai's Napoli Pizza Action

By Sophie Steiner, January 31, 2023

0 0

The Place

Making the leap from Beijing, Neapolitan pizza and pasta joint Bottega has landed in the old Beef & Liberty spot in the KWah Center on Xiangyang Lu.

It’s decked-out to the nines, trendy, full of live music nightly and ready to make a name for itself in Shanghai. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Co-owners and brothers Paolo and Daniele Salvo man the kitchen and the wine / restaurant floor, respectively, with co-partners Nana Shinohara as the chairman and David Connolly running creative.

After successfully opening Bottega to the pizza loving masses in Beijing in 2014, the team has got this recipe down to a science, further expanding in 2017 to a second location, and opening three other restaurant concepts (Forno, El Barrio and Daruma) around the capital since then. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Now, it’s time to make the jump south to Shanghai with a bigger, better, more badass 100-seater.

The Food

As one would expect from a Napoli restaurant, pizza is the star of the show – and not just by local standards; Bottega has received a slew of accolades over the years from international culinary authorities.

As surely Asia’s most awarded pizzeria, Bottega holds the title of Top Pizzeria Asia Pacific, Best Pizzeria China and 14th Best Pizzeria from 50Top Pizza, plus Three Slices from Gambero Rosso – the equivalent of receiving three Michelin stars in the world of Napoli pizzas venues. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

This is owed to the fact that they’ve been pumping out their pizzas using the same 36-48-hour fermented, 80% hydration dough recipe that’s been passed down for three generations in the Salvo family... dating back to Nonno Salvo, who owned a pizzeria in Naples back in 1928. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It’s no shocker that the menu offers a whopping 21 – yup TWENTY-ONE! – pizza options, plus a smattering of noodles, antipasta and desserts.

Oh yeah, and there’s wine. A lot of wine – more than 200 varieties – organized by price and body in a walk-in wine cellar.

There is also all the spritzes and aperitivos you would ever need to convince yourself, by the end of the night, that you’re actually drinking in Naples. 

DSC07790.jpgAmaretto Sour (RMB60) and Negroni (RMB70), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

We have extremely high hopes for the new cocktail menu that will launch in early spring – just in time for the outdoor patio to open – as it’s curated by none other than Peter from Beijing’s beloved cocktail bar, Black Moth (RIP).

A bartender’s bartender, Peter knows his way around the world of spirits, and we’ve never had a sipper from him that didn’t have us immediately ordering another round. Get your hopes up; you won’t be disappointed. 

Alright, back to that sublimely cheese-smothered, bubbled-up, crisp dough we know you’ve all been speed reading the first chunk of this article to get to. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Let's start at the beginning, and the Bottega (RMB139) – the restaurant’s namesake pizza that embodies Napoli food culture in one bite.

We're talking salt-cured anchovies, roasted cherry tomatoes, a generous sprinkling of mozzarella and an entire, glorious globule of gooey burrata plopped right in the middle.

The chef suggests slicing the ball o’cheese open and slathering it across the entire pie, a creamy balance to the anchovy’s briny salinity. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

One of Italy’s most underrated meats, mortadella is sliced paper thin and fanned out across that signature 5 Stagioni flour-based crust on the Mortazza (RMB109).

More mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano are anchored to the ‘za by a shmear of made-fresh-daily pesto.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Our judge of any Naples pizza is the Diavola (RMB99) – a classic on every menu featuring spicy salami, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and... that’s it!

The key is in the simplicity, each humble ingredient allowed to speak for itself. 

And Bottega’s version sings. A criss-cross mosaic of spicy meat, a pull of melty cheesy, a scorched yet chewy dough edge – it’s a symphony of flavors that is music to our ears. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Beyond the pizza, the rest of the menu features just as many heavy hitters.

The Frittatina Pancetta e Tartufo (RMB49) is the Neapolitan fritter lovechild of a creamy bucatini “mac’n’cheese” and a mozzarella stick. Plus there’s truffle, and bacon, and mozz, oh my! 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Naples doubles down when it comes to the fried goods, of which there are an astounding array on every street corner.

Case in point, the Calzone Fritto (RMB99) – a deep-fried behemoth of puffed-up gluttony, clocking in at roughly the size of a newborn baby in length and weight, stuffed to the gills with ricotta, mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and oh-so much Italian imported salami. 

Buckle up for this one, you’re most definitely going to need a co-pilot. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

DSC07799.jpgCarpaccio di Manzo Wagyu (RMB139), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

DSC07885.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

Like something an Italian nonna would make, the Rigatoni alla Genovese (RMB89) is literally that – chef Paolo’s nonna’s recipe.

Six-hour slow-cooked chunky beef ragu is reduced down with red onion and scooped heftily across pasta tubes. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Expertly al dente, homemade chitarra cut Spaghetti con Polpette (RMB99) is scattered with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and meaty licks of Calabrian ‘nduja meatballs for a final nip of heat.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Polletto Arrosto con Salsa Verde (RMB139) sees local yellow spring chicken – prized for its higher fat content – first boiled, then dried, before being roasted in the oven for that shatteringly crisp skin and meat texture that spans from succulent to juicy to melting.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

On the dessert front, there’s Italian go-tos like Tiramisu, Panna Cotta and Affogato, but we opted for their signature Tortino al Cioccolato (RMB59), a molten chocolate lava cake filled with an oozing white chocolate center and topped with vanilla gelato.

It’s a showstopper, a heart-stopper and must-order for all diners. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The hero of all Italian desserts, the Semifreddo alla Nutella (RMB59) sees homemade Italian vanilla semifreddo with crushed hazelnuts with a liberal dribble of Italy’s pride and joy – Nutella.  

The Vibe 

The space is loud: bold lighting; in-your-face retro colors; disco balls; glowing 1950’s-themed ‘advert’ posters for Italian F&B brands; a brightly lit open kitchen featuring a racecar red Stefano Ferrara pizza oven; an entire wall homage to ‘The King’ Diego Maradona, who put Naples on the football map; and an illuminated DJ booth.

But the focal point is the lustrous bar, a could-be backdrop for a Campari and Aperol commercial. It’s prideful, demonstrative, frenetic and borderline excessive.

We love it. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Expect the DJ booth to be bumping every Wednesday through Saturday, lunch and delivery to launch soon, and, come summer, the already crowded space to be spilling out onto the wraparound terrace at all hours of the day and night. 

Price: RMB100-250
Who’s Going: Italian food fans, those with their finger on the pulse of the Beijing food scene, the Xuhui drinking contingency, lovers of the Naples ‘za
Good For: Italian dinner into dancing, all-hour feeds, casual dining, carb-loading

Bottega, 1/F, 101B, K.WAH CENTRE, 108 Xiangyang Bei Lu, by Huaihai Zhong Lu 襄阳北路108号101B嘉华中心1楼, 近淮海中路.

Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

more news

It’s All Good at Shanghai’s Newest Burger Obsession: Goodman

Smash burger in one hand, highball in the other

2 China Restaurants Make World's 50 Best 2024 List

Wing in Hong Kong is Greater China's top entry, plus the full list.

15 of Shanghai's Most Popular Pastries To Eat Right Now

For that necessary blood sugar spike

7 American BBQ Joints Turning Up the Heat in Shanghai

Bringing the fire with all things smoked meats

'Trendy Thai' Thai Festival 2024 in Shanghai Opens

Check it out at Super Brand Mall

Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip: April 2024

Your monthly serving of tasty F&B gossip tidbits.

51 Restaurants Receive Stars in the 2024 Michelin Guide Shanghai

See which restaurants fared the best and earned stars in the 2024 Shanghai Michelin Guide.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives