New & Noted: Restaurant Reviews

Bella Mia

What: A worthy addition to the overpopulated Italian dining scene

Where: 10 Baoqing Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu. Tel: 3461 9627

Why: It’s multo delicioso!

Too often in Shanghai, spaghetti Bolognese, minestrone and tiramisu are sinofied, leaving little to offer for those in search of authentic Italian; this is not the case at Bella Mia. The chef-owner Franco Varesano is imported straight from Rome, alongside his Chinese wife Isa He, who spent the better part of the past 20 years helping her husband run their restaurant in the Italian capital. Together, they make a dynamic duo with He running the front of the house with her impressive Italian peppered with Chinese and Varesano churning out authentic Appenine fare in the kitchen.

In the shadow of the Lapis Casa hotel, Bella Mia offers a patio for al fresco dining, in addition to their delicious Italian fare. Start with the carpaccio di branzino (RMB 78). You won’t be disappointed with the serving platter full of sea bass marinated in lemon juice and heaped with fresh arugula – it’s so fresh it’s almost like dining on summer itself. The glorious thin-crust pizzas (RMB 58 – 128) range from the simple, but excellent Margherita to more elaborate options decked out with truffle oil, sausage, porcini mushrooms, Parma ham and artichokes, to name just a few.

In true Italian fashion, the pastas are simple and to the point, emphasising the ingredients’ original flavours and scorning superfluous additions. The minimalist paccheri alla sorrentina (RMB 98) is a chaste combination of tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil that leaves little to the imagination. It’s purely a bowl of well-sourced ingredients that impresses with its effortless preparation and timeless flavours – kinda like the restaurant itself. 

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