This post was almost going to be a full-throated recommendation of La Dolce Vita’s business lunch. Starting at 78 RMB, the new Italian restaurant offers lunchers a pasta or pizza course, coffee or dessert, and access to an antipasto buffet that would be worth the money all by itself. Upgrade to 88 RMB and you can choose a main course instead (108 RMB gets you both).
La Dolce Vita is making a name for itself with the many thin-crust pizzas that pepper the dinner menu, though for lunch you’ll only be able to choose from the pizza marinara and the pizza margherita. The margherita is satisfying, with a crispy crust and fragrant cheese and sauce, but such basic offerings are hardly mind-blowing stuff. The antipasto buffet is really the star of the lunch special: salmon glistening in olive oil and caper juice, thick and tangy bell peppers, thick juicy tomato slices with mozzarella, and a revolving plate of salami and other cured meats.
We wish we could tell you how pasta was, but unfortunately the staff completely forgot to deliver our fusilli in the 40 minutes after we ordered it, despite frequent prodding and furrowed brows. When it finally did arrive, we had gorged on enough polenta that we sent it back, clearly unhappy with its late arrival. After being told that the manager was out “having tea,” someone appeared and offered their apologies, then disappeared into the kitchen to “look into what happened” and then never returned. The final bill, fittingly, was for the full price.
Western establishments have become better managed in the five long years we’ve been here, but customers still take lumps sometimes when new restaurants like La Dolce Vita under deliver on service as they ramp up their operations. We won’t discourage you from coming here for the lunch special, just make sure you have patience for stammering, discombobulated service and at least a good hour and a half to spare for your midday meal; it won’t be a quick one.
La Dolce Vita – 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu (副民路291号, 近长乐路) Tel: 6170-1318
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.