• Restaurants
  • European
  • Italian
240-242 Danshui Lu

Luccio’s owner Paul Hopkins, first-time restauranteur whose wife works at nearby FQ Project gallery, quite simply wanted ‘a good Italian in the area’. With a genuine Belpaesen in the kitchen – who makes his own mozzarella – and a large ground-floor plot on Danshui Lu, things look set. And yet, one month after opening, the restaurant is eerily quiet.


Set back from the gleaming wattage of Xintiandi Style, Danshui Lu is a magnet for errant expats who’ve shunned the glitz in favour of thrift shops, outdoor cafés and old lanes. With a foreign food shop next door, by geographical default it should ensnare a trickle of customers. But when we enter, we have to double check that it’s open.


Once inside, the interior speaks of modern Scandinavian design catalogues, with tasteful but safe wooden tables and chairs for 40 people, pine floors and a statement electric blue wall. The waitress is chirpy and delivers the day’s specials with a genuine smile. Luccio's offers terrific deals on wines, such as a Selvagrossa Selva Bianco made with Biancame grapes which runs 37RMB/glass and 163RMB/bottle (also available for take-away at just 130RMB/bottle). To top it all, a waiter plugs in an iPod and warm bread rolls arrive on the table. It’s a promising start.


However, the next three courses fall short. We begin with the recommended Four Season’s pizza, with artichoke and prosciutto (95RMB). The crust is thin-baked with a rim of charred chewy bits, how we like it. But the topping could do with more black pepper, a dash of herbs and a lick more sauce, to add depth of flavour, which the prosciutto fails to deliver. For the price, it’s no better than nearby Pizza Marzano.


The gnocchi (78RMB) are light little pillows, and aren’t overly kneaded as is often the case, but the fava beans are overcooked and mushy. The lamb rack (150RMB) is properly prepared, with the bones scraped back and accompanied by a heap of green beans and polenta. The meat is bloody yet overly chewy. Nor is the tuna in the tuna tartare (88RMB) quite right; it has too many ribbons of stringy sinew. Once again, the delicate presentation is undone by poor quality meat.


Perhaps these are opening wobbles – there is clearly talent in the kitchen and drive behind the scenes. If Luccio gets the suppliers right and raises the quality of the ingredients, they could well be packing out next time we stop by.

By Charlotte Middlehurst

Venue name: Luccio's
Opening hours: 11am-11pm daily
Metro: Xintiandi
English address: 240-242 Danshui Lu, Near Fuzing Zhong Lu, Huangpu district
Chinese address: 黄浦区淡水路240-242号, 近复兴中路