Late night Anfu Lu favourite, Italian Kitchen 26 has recently rebranded as The Terrace, an Italian pizzeria and bistro. They've introduced a hulking great pizza oven at the front of the already cramped space, added a lot more blonde wood seating and revamped the menu with a pizza slant.
Check back for a more updated review of The Terrace. The write up below is from its previous incarnation as Italian Kitchen 26.
Yet another reason to envy residents of Anfu Lu, this tiny Japanese-run Italian bistro with imported hams hanging above the bar, an appealing list of affordable wines and around ten little tables set with self-serve cutlery baskets is a great addition to a street already spoilt for dining and drinking choices.
The Japanese head chef at Italian Kitchen 26 lived in Italy for ten years and both he and the Japanese owner have previously worked at The Kitchen Salvatore Cuomo
, one of Shanghai’s top Italian restaurants. The Salvatore Cuomo connection doesn’t end there either. One of the waiters at Italian Kitchen formerly worked at Y’s Table
, the recently closed Cuomo restaurant.
The owner says he opened Italian Kitchen not just because he loves Italian food but also because in Shanghai, unlike in Japan, it’s hard to find ‘real food’ – beyond noodles or bar food – late at night; he’ll be serving his full menu until 2am.
There’s a small range of ‘tapas of the day’ for 28RMB such as imported olives or simple sautéed mushrooms. But the star of the starters is the fried squid (35RMB) – some of the crispiest, tastiest calamari we’ve had in a while. The beer batter has a light, tempura-like texture which even after cooling off maintains its big crunch.
Linguini with seafood (88RMB) combines clams, mussels, shrimp, squid rings, zucchini and tomato over al dente pasta. It’s an easy, no fusion, no fuss style. Gorgonzola penne (68RMB), also cooked perfectly ‘to the tooth’, comes with loads of creamy sauce hiding under the pasta; it’s mild with no real kick but so satisfyingly cheesy, we’d order it again.
The wine list embraces many regions with around two labels from each country. A glass of Tenuta Pinot Grigio, which pairs well with the seafood pasta, is just 38RMB. Local manager Ken, who developed the list together with an expert sommelier, says he keeps the wine prices low so diners can ‘enjoy gourmet with more pleasure’.
Italian Kitchen is located at the slightly less restaurant-dense end of Anfu Lu near Changshu Lu. We can only hope this type of dining ‘sprawl’ continues into other neighbourhoods around Shanghai also hungry for affordable friendly bistros, open late night, to boot. Crystyl Mo