Add: 5/F Yi Feng Galleria, 99 East Bei Jing Road, Shanghai 北京东路99号，益丰外滩源5楼
Tel: +86 (21) 5308 8332
Hours: Sun-Wed 5:30pm-1:00am; Thurs-Sat 5:30pm-2:00am
Price: [Restaurant Week 4-course set] RMB258; [à-la-carte] RMB350-500
Visited: April 2016
Will return: Probably
– See my latest review of CAPO here. –
Note: This visit is during DiningCity’s Restaurant Week.
Restaurant Week offers a good starting point for discovering places one hasn’t visited before. Several restaurants that I visited during previous Restaurant Weeks have proceeded to become my favorites in Shanghai. But since restaurants tend to be unusually full during these events, service can often be somewhat more hectic than usual. So when I visited CAPO during the past Restaurant Week with a party of seven, I was prepared to be lenient and forgive some lapses in the service, such as the servers being slow to refill our wine and water.
I was not, however, prepared to forgive the inconsistent quality of the food. Chef Jason Atherton once remarked that “even if it takes us 40 minutes to get the food out of the kitchen to you, it has to be done in the best way possible.” While CAPO did not make us wait 40 minutes, we experienced varying qualities in our food for the same dishes. And for me, one of the few things more frustrating than receiving mediocre food all around, is seeing that the kitchen has the ability to produce great food, but failed to uphold the standard of excellence when the food leaves the kitchen.
And CAPO does have the ability to produce great food. When done right, the dishes we had that evening were delicious. It was down-to-earth Italian classics done with as much attention to finesse as to tradition.
Our meal started with some crusty bread served with a whole roasted garlic.
The Home-made Marinated Salmon with Orange and Dill looked stunning – four translucent slices of glistening cured salmon laid over vibrant stalks of asparagus. The subtle notes of sweetness in the salmon and the delicate tenderness of the asparagus really refined this dish.
Sadly, my portion was a bit less stunning. The slices were clearly from one end of the salmon, so not only were they smaller, but the piece from the very end was particularly salty.
The Rolled Pizza CAPO Style was quite novel and interesting in presentation. The arugula and cherry tomatoes brought a nice zip, rounded out by a little cheese. I especially liked the chewy texture and yeasty flavor of the dough, but there was a bit too much dough for the amount of filling. By the way, the four pieces on the plate look quite different, don’t they? Consistency issues again.
Then came the pasta. The Hand-crafted Organic Egg Tagliatelle with Spicy Amatriciana Sauce, Tomato, and Pork Guanciale was rich and satisfying. The sauce was perfectly emulsified, and the salty, smokey lardons worked wonderfully with the tomatoes and the cheese.
I tried my friend’s Hand-made Amalfi Coast Speciality Scialatielli Long Pasta with Fresh Seafood Sauce. It smelled divine, and the seafood flavor was strong but balanced.
From what I’ve heard, the CAPO Exclusively Butchered Australian Black Angus “Ranger Valley” Striploin Tagliata Style was Chef Enzo’s signature. Strangely, our server didn’t ask us how we wanted our steaks. I told him (without being asked) that I would like mine medium-rare, and another guest asked for rare. My medium-rare came out closer to medium, my friend’s rare also came out somewhere between medium-rare and medium, while the guests who didn’t volunteer a preference got medium, apparently by default…
The server politely and readily agreed when my friend asked for his supposedly-rare steak to be redone. When it came back, it was a perfect rare and almost meltingly tender.
My medium-rare/medium was moderately marbled and quite tender, but the piece of fat on one side was rather chewy. I also noticed that my steak (shown below) was a bit thinner than the other ones. The arugula salad was dressed with an excellent balsamic and shards of parmesan, and the roast cherry tomato was plump, juicy, and flavorsome. The roast onion needed a touch more seasoning.
The medium was a bit tough and chewy for me, but some of my friends liked it.
Recommend: when they get the temperature right, definitely
A beautiful Laguiole knife for the steak that unfortunately didn’t cut very well…
Two of my friends chose the Oven Roasted Sea Bass and Prawn with Roasted Vegetables and Mediterranean Herbs, which arrived a few minutes after the steak. The servers offered no explanation or apology for the delay. But when they did arrive, my friends liked it.
Forgot to take a photo, sorry…
The Traditional Italian Tiramisu was served with a Coffee Sauce on the side, instead of soaking the ladyfingers in espresso and liquor. I liked the coffee sauce, but the cake itself was a bit dry and lacks acidity.
The extensive wine list featured Italian wines heavily – it is an Italian restaurant after all. The Frescobaldi Chianti recommended by a server was sweet, balanced, and quite light.
Overall, the food was quite excellent when done properly, so for now, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. I will visit again (probably with a smaller party) for their regular menu before giving a verdict.