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.
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.
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
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.
(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.
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.