Another day another copy-paste pizza place opening in Shanghai, right? You’d think so, but this latest venture by the Kartel Wine Bar guys edges out your average Shanghai trattoria with its hip ambience, stylish crowd, and affordable pies.
Soprano is situated in the atrium of the Wuding Road expat enclave, across from Munchies and down the street from Mr. Pancake House – an area which surprisingly lacked many pizza options before Soprano touched down.
Soprano takes its name from the classical female singing voice and not the Mafia TV show, so the walls are thankfully free of gangster memorabilia and hacky pizza-related mob movie quotes (“make him a slice he can’t refuse…etc”). Although the dim, coppery lighting scheme is a bit Mario Puzo-esque.
The interior consists of stylishly crude wood, an open bar area, and a table where you can stand to sip wine. They hold periodic wine tastings there as well. Being in Jing’an means Soprano is like flypaper for French expats, but unlike places like Cafe des Stagiaires or La Pentanque, they’re not above catering to other customers as well. We’d characterize the staff as simultaneously expedient and laid back without being aloof. Customers tend to show up fairly late, like around 7:30-8pm.
Tomato crostino misto
Menu entails a fairly standard selection of cold cuts, caprese salad, pastas, pizzas like the margherita, and calzones. By now, you see these items on menus in Shanghai almost as frequently as hongshao rou and xia ren. For your antipasti, we recommend the Crostino Misto, six crackling, crouton-like pieces of toasted bread topped with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese, and walnuts and goat cheese. Think of them as pygmy pizzas to prime your palate before the main attraction. They’re also a steal at only 48RMB.
After that, go for a pasta, either rigatoni with ragu Bolognese (RMB78), or spaghetti vongole (88RMB). The seasoning’s a bit sparse, but the bounty of briny shell-on clams, shrimp, and octopus tentacles pick up the savory slack.
Thin-crust pizza is the name of the game, and Soprano offers some of the more agreeably-priced specimens in town with a margherita for 65RMB, a vegetarian for 75RMB, and a calzone for 85RMB – for the laymen, that’s basically an upscale Hot Pocket filled with salami, ham, spinach and mozzarella. All are fairly colossal. We especially liked the Padrino with prosciutto, parma ham, mozzarella, arugula (85RMB).The dough canvas was evenly sprinkled with ingredients, and it tasted light and vibrant; not the typical soggy marsh of tomato sauce and cheese. But man was the crust undercooked. And not just a tad doughy, but so pliant you could probably fashion it into a vase on a potter’s wheel. Fortunately, the toppings and price make up for it.
Speaking of, come lunchtime there’s a special deal that gets you a salad, a drink and a choice of any pizza or pasta for only 78RMB.
Soprano – 993 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu (武定路993号, 近胶州路). Tel: (0)21-6256-6500. Hours: 11:30am-2:30pm lunch, 5:30-11pm dinner.
See a complete list of our reviews here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].