What: Neapolitan pizzeria with a great focused menu
Where: 20 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu. Tel: 3356 5118. Web:
Why: Pizza. Vino. Gelato. What more could you want?
When we found out that Gemma is owned by Yuri Valazza, it made sense that the osteria succeeds where so many other Shanghai restaurants have failed: reliably good sourcing. Valazza, a native of Napoli, is part-owner in Feidan, as well as the import company that manages the grocer’s products (and supplies hotels and restaurants like Liquid Laundry, Mercato and Franck). He also owns the logistics company that gets everything to Shanghai for the importer. With Gemma, he’s put the final piece of his vertical integration plan into place, and now he can micromanage each step of the process, from supplier to table.
And he does. Every single ingredient on his pizzas from start to finish is sourced and imported by him (except for the mozzarella, which comes locally from Solo Latte, an excellent decision). He went to great lengths to secure the flour used in the pizza crust, and this time he’s not sharing it with his restaurant clients. It’s delicious as the base in the Serafina pizza (RMB 138). The alightly-doughy, perfectly-charred crust is swabbed with sweet tomato sauce. Slivers of prosciutto cotto relax into it, covering button mushrooms crisped just so the edges started to curl. 
But on the pesto pizza (RMB 158), the crust doesn’t fare as well. Under the aged slices of prosciutto crudo draped over creamy piles of stracciatella and sprigs of arugula, barely wilted, the crust is dry and brittle. The wood-fire oven proved too much for the daubs of pesto, unable to defeat the dehydrating power of the kiln’s inferno. 
The antipasti platter (RMB 50) sums up Valazza’s commitment to finding quality ingredients on a single plate with briny olives from Tuscany, powerful slips of anchovies from Sicily and sweet roasted piquillo peppers from Spain. A bowl of cold cuts (RMB 88 for three or RMB 138 for five) was generous – an excellent selection of salami, prosciutto crudo and coppa freshly sliced so paper thin that we thought we were on our final piece of salami, and it turned out to be four.
Wines by the glass range from RMB 40 to RMB 60 and go down well with the menu – bottles are slightly more, but still very affordable, and Valazza’s gone to the trouble of finding some biodynamic beauties. Gelato – made in-house - is worth saving room for. Try the luscious strawberry with a scoop of fior di latte milk (RMB 30 for one scoop, RMB 50 for two) for a decadent turn on berries and cream.
This is only the beginning for Valazza and the well-thought-out space. Next up is a second floor homemade pasta restaurant, and if Gemma’s pizza is any indication, the laser-like focus will make it worth a visit too. The late night crowds on Donghu Lu have also inspired them to look into creating an Italian cocktail menu.