Is Rome's Best Pizza Slice in Shanghai?

By Sophie Steiner, August 10, 2023

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Chef Lucky Lasagna of Bambino has done it again. Just when we thought he couldn’t wow us any further, he nonchalantly does – with his newly launched Roman-style pizzas. 

His pizza furiosa is just that, furiously f*cking awesome, an homage to the Roman pizza al taglio – or pizza by the slice, one that’s customarily baked in behemoth cast iron rectangular pans, sliced haphazardly into squares, and sold by weight at pizzerias around the country.

This is not your average slice. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

For pizza geeks like us – ones that stay up late at night pondering dough fermentation speeds, crust digestibility and the ideal ratio of yeast to flour – the perfect pie begins with the crust. Chef Lucky’s base is pizza bianca bread, as it’s called in Rome. 

Similar to Florentine schiacciata, it's a thinner focaccia made with potato for added fluff, malt powder, and a daub of honey that caramelizes for a shatteringly crisp crust.

Each slice is a hefty two fingers thick (should be spelled with a double ‘c’) and, while anyone can do pizza, no one in Shanghai is doing it like this. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It's like a Detroit pizza meets an upside Sicilian in carb heaven, and they decide to move to Rome. 

It deserves a cult following.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

There are currently four options available at lunch, or for delivery all day – transported to your door in a humidity-resistant box to maintain that requisite crunch.

And – like any good Roman pizza al taglio shop, flavors are going to rotate often, keeping it fresh, seasonal, and enticing. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

First up, there’s a deconstructed eggplant parmesan scattered across a pizza dough as Aretha’s Eggplant (RMB46).

Gooey globules of mozz, a dribble of homemade marinara, dollops of pesto, plus a showering of parmesan and fresh basil leaves act as a backdrop for nuggets of tempura batter-fried eggplant that burst and ooze molten aubergine when bitten. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Smoked paprika and lemon-marinated sous vide chicken breast encased in a parmesan, almond and herb crust is the star of the Harlem Shuffle Chicken (RMB48), anchored to the pie by a fiery bell pepper aioli.

A smattering of sundried tomatoes and fresh lemon skin are casted as equally important supporting actors. 

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“A taste of my hometown of Aprilia in summer” is how Chef Lucky describes Marylyn’s Prawn Cocktail (RMB48), the “it” pizza of the season year after year.

And, after sampling, we totally get why, despite the fact that it involves no cheese, a usual must in our book.

(For this one, we'll let the definition slide.) 

Succulent sweet prawns are crowned with pickled red onions, fried capers, and arugula, rounded by a kick of sweet heat from red chilis.

But it’s the cocktail sauce that has us rethinking our entire pizza paradigm – a lickable shmear of tangy cognac-laden aioli that had us tossing our pizza rulebook out the window.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Arguably the most Italian of Italian flavor combinations takes form as Nina’s Nduja (RMB58), a stripe of piquant Nduja sausage painted across a crackly dough canvas, whorls of cured Coppa ham, rocket, artichoke pickles and stracciatella – pulled shreds of mozzarella soaked in heavy cream, the choicest part of the “Queen of Italian Cheeses.” 

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It's not all Roman pizzas though; a deliciously corrupt version of pasta with red sauce, the Mafaldine (RMB68) is a mind trick, designed to mimic the appearance of a thick tomato sauce. But, instead it delivers an eruption of robust nduja and bell pepper, slathered across ribbon-like waved noodles. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Tender chunks of Italian sausages and fennel panure bread crumbs are sprinkled throughout, while the ripply pasta edges become coated in shreds of pecorino and whole fennel seeds. 

And, while the road to Rome may be paved in pizza and pasta, the vegetables are anything but an after-thought, making us balk at places that throw steamed broccoli on a plate and call it a side – a disservice to vegetables, plants, and Mother Earth herself. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Bambino Greens (RMB78) are the antithesis to said vegetal abomination – a refreshing toss of sugarsnap and snow peas, radicchio, arugula, wisps of celery, crispy chickpeas and salty feta, tossed in a zippy house vinaigrette with fragrant zested orange skin.

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Overall, Bambino is where you want to go to feel welcome, like you're a part of the family – one that centers around a tatted up, moustache sporting, motorbike riding, boisterous 'nonna' that cooks with nothing but passion, since that's the only way he knows how. 

READ MORE: Food That Feeds the Stomach & Soul at Lucky Lasagna's Bambino

Bambino, 600 Shanxi Bei Lu, by Xinzha Lu 陕西北路600号,近新闸路.


[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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