We’ve reported a couple times that 1933, the former slaughterhouse turned art district/shopping complex, was beautiful but empty, a space that had potential but nothing to fill it. But on a recent walk through, something had changed – more spaces had gone from renovation to actually being open, and what few early tenants had already set up suddenly seemed more alluring. We walked into one, Rosso Italiano, and it made us realize: there are things to do at 1933.
To be completely honest, it hadn’t been my idea to walk in. The decor is white, red and plastic – a little jarring and representative of way too many Shanghai restaurants that value some super-stylized concept of “modern life!” over actual food. My companions were less picky about the interior though, and even found it cute.
“That looks like the Goddess of Democracy, how daring!” said one, pointing to one of the art pieces near the entrance (there’s quite a few art pieces, the restaurant bills itself as a gallery of sorts). We asked a waiter about it, they replied they didn’t know – a designer took care of the art.
It was lucky they liked it. Rosso Italiano is one of the better Italian restaurants I’ve had a chance to try in Shanghai – delicious, well presented and at a very decent price point.
Stand out appetizers included the beef carpaccio (68RMB), drizzled lightly in balsamic vinegar and with generous shavings of parmesan on top, and the octopus calamari (78RMB) was a delight – bites of simmered octopus had been placed gently alongside green beans and grilled potato disks. The dish was light, but satisfying. (Note: There seems to be some confusion when Rosso Italiano first opened about the amuse bouche versus the appetizers. They have a specific appetizer menu, and the amuse bouche – which does change every day – is free.)
Their pastas and mains were equally impressive. Homemade trofie – a type of gnocchi noodle – came with a mortar full of their homemade, earthy and nutty basil pesto (78RMB), so that you can flavor it to your taste. When we requested more to go with their bread plate, they happily obliged.
A tuna fillet (148RMB) had been seared perfectly, not quite raw but served right before it got tough, and rested in a piquant orange sauce. Their cod dish (148RMB) was equally well done – cooked at low temperatures to the consistency of scallop and with just enough accoutrements to make it interesting. They wavered slightly on the beef dish (188RMB), which besides being less creative (it was served on a decent potato pancake with bacon-wrapped julienned veggies on top) was also a tad tough.
And the desserts! The chocolate fondant (58RMB) is to die for, but other stand outs include the pineapple “carpaccio” (52RMB) and their own slightly deconstructed version of a “Tiramisu” (52RMB).
From looking at previous reviews and pictures, it looks like the menu at Rosso Italiano is constantly changing – partially because of the chef’s dedication to “local, seasonal” food and partially because it’s still new and constantly empty. But if their selection continues to be as intricate and flavorful as what we found the times it took to do this review, then Rosso has a bright future ahead of it.
As a side note, Rosso Italiano is actually one of the restaurants featured on the Shanghai Restaurant Week list right now – and, thanks to its not very known status, reservations are pretty easy to come by. If you have a free night, it might be worth checking out.
Rosso Italiano is located at 1-218, 10 Shajing Rd. in the 1933 complex in Hongkou, 沙泾路10号1-218. Tel: 021 65138708