Capo at Rockbund
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
Visited: March 2017
Will return: Yes
Please note that this was an arranged tasting.
Established in 2012 by Muse Group and Naples-born chef Enzo Carbone, Capo at Rockbund offers a modern take on classic Italian fare. Located in a historic building on the Bund, Capo’s main dining room is a cavernous space framed by exposed brick walls, the rusticity tempered with bare wooden tables and wide plank floors, lending the place more warmth and intimacy.
Photo credit: Capo at Rockbund
Over the years, Capo has not only attracted a strong local following, but has also become a favorite haunt for many celebrities. This year, the Capo team is joined by Tuscan chef Marcelli Cristiano, giving the kitchen a new vigor. Chef Cristiano completely revamps the menu, bringing in dishes spanning the length and breath of Italy.
Chef Marcelli Cristiano
Photo credit: Capo at Rockbund
Our journey started from the North with beef carpaccio, a Piedmont classic given new life with depth from a truffle mayo, brightness with a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar, and texture from some parmesan chips and shaved carrots. Next, Chef Cristiano led us south with his interpretation of pappa al pomodoro, a thick Tuscan tomato soup which he served chilled alongside buffalo mozzarella and marinated mackerel. The Neapolitan eggplant parmigiana was also remade, receiving an unexpected lightness from some burrata and whole roasted cherry tomatoes.
Beef carpaccio, truffle mayonnaise, parmigiano chips (138)
Pappa al pomodoro, buffalo mozzarella, marinated mackerel (118)
Eggplant parmigiana, burrata, cherry tomatoes (98)
Other appetizers were more global, but just as delicious. Crispy charred octopus and roasted tomatoes were laid over a creamy potato purée. Pan-fried foie gras was served on top of sweet brioche buns, alongside shards of crispy, salty pancetta and a tart strawberry salad. A lobster and potato salad was flavorful, if slightly overdressed, while the squid ink cous cous on the side was marvelous.
Crispy octopus and potatoes (118)
Pan-fried foie gras, brioche, crispy pancetta, strawberry salad (158)
Lobster salad, squid ink cous cous (228)
Pasta is, of course, an essential part of the menu, and the new additions are somewhat more adventurous than their predecessors. Thick, firm strands of chitarra spaghetti from Abruzzo were served in a tomato sauce with wonderfully fragrant lamb meatballs. The more commonplace spaghetti took on an intense color in an earthy guanciale and red wine sauce from the mountains of Valle d’Aosta. More vibrant in color, plump parcels of beetroot ravioli were filled with ricotta and blue cheese, the simple butter sauce fragrant with sage and crunchy with walnuts.
Spaghetti alla chitarra, lamb meatballs (108)
Spaghetti in wine sauce with guanciale and crispy onions (108)
Beetroot ravioli filled with ricotta and blue cheese, butter and walnuts sauce (118)
The main courses are rather more elaborate than what they used to be. Hulking pockets of whole calamari stuffed alla Fiorentina were impressively tender and flavorsome. Chunks of black cod were coated in charcoal and fried, its crispy black shell striking against the glistening white flesh. The cod was served on a bed of sweet and comforting pumpkin cream and topped with crispy beetroot chips and crunchy hazelnuts.
Stuffed calamari alla Fiorentina (208)
Black tempura cod, pumpkin cream, hazelnuts, crispy beetroot (258)
The far end of Capo’s dining room is dominated by a pair of ovens – constructed by a fifth-generation Italian artisan using imported brick and mortar – one of which is responsible for pizza. The other is used for steaks, allowing the meat to attain a lovely crust while keeping the center moist and rare. Ours was perhaps a bit too rare for my taste, but the flavors were remarkable.
Wagyu beef tagliata, crispy kale, roasted mini carrots (368)
Desserts followed the same trajectory. The ultimate classic Italian dessert, tiramisu was deconstructed into creamy dollops of mascarpone cream studded with coffee crisps, with some fresh strawberries to break up the heaviness. Tiramisu made a second, equally impressive appearance in a play on canolo, presented in a “magic box” alongside a crème brûlée, a passion fruit panna cotta, and some biscotti and macarons.
Deconstructed tiramisu (68)
Magic Box: tiramisu canolo, crème brûlée, passion fruit panna cotta, biscotti, macarons (168)
An exciting array of invigoratingly modernized dishes born from traditional Italian classics, Capo’s new menu comes as a breath of fresh air. The new menu will be launched on April 2nd, at which time I will be sure to visit again.