Chef: Umberto Bombana has been constantly upgrading his reputation on the Asian dining scene in recent years. After opening his first Italian restaurant in Hong Kong a couple of years ago, this year he launched his first 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo restaurant in mainland China. Here in Shanghai as well as in Hong Kong the chef named his restaurants after his favorite Italian film director Federico Fellini’s 1963 autobiographical movie “8 ½”. Celebrating Italian lifestyle, art and pleasures became the motto of his restaurants.
In Shanghai the chef Bombana has teamed up with an Executive Chef Alan Yu, Chef de Cuisine Silvio Armanni, and Pastry Chef Sohya Takahashi to create a unique blend of flavours.
Atmosphere: Depending on where you are sitting, the bar is more fun and off-beat, while the restaurant is more uptight. The service is friendly, knowledgeable and impeccable. Each wine by the glass we were not sure about was given us to sample a sip so we could make up our mind according to our preferences while the wine waiter explained each wine and its producers in detail. I would recommend you dress up nicely at both – the bar and main dining area as the restaurant has quite a luxurious feel.
Food: Innovative Italian classics, visually appealing and tasty. You can order the entire tasting menu or if you like select only one or two dishes from it as you fancy and add some items from the a la carte list.
Much better was the Wagyu Tajima Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio topped with vegetables brunoise & crispy parmesan. The wagyu grade beef was superb, thin and juicy as it should be in a tasty carpaccio. Basil pesto levelled up the vegetables and the crispy parmesan crackers added depth and contrasting texture to the delicate and fatty beef.
From the tasting menu I loved the seasonal Hairy Crab gratin with parmesan foam & oscietra caviar. I would lick all the sauce from the plate if I was not at a fine dining restaurant. The creamy parmesan sauce was so delicious and the gratin of crab with cheese and refreshing scoop of caviar just clicked all well together. A glass of a more acidic wine such as Riesling or Pinot Gris would be ideal for this dish.
The main courses feature the Italian signature Breaded Veal Chop “Milanese Style” with cherry tomatoes & oregano salad that is made to perfection here keeping its authentic crunchy texture and thin meat, it is not oily but more on the drier side so some might prefer it while others might miss a bit more juice. The tomatoes are succulent and intense adding zesty acidity to the dry character of the Milanese style veal chop.
Drinks: The wine list is studded with big names in the wine industry such the Angelo Gaja’s expensive Italian breed, but also with lesser-known off-the-beaten-track producers.
We went for the wines by the glass since they looked appealing. I found an interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made by Livio Felluga to be my favourite. This blend is called Vertigo and is produced in the North-eastern Italian IGT region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Elegant, smooth, deep with dark fruits such as rich blackcurrant and ripe tannins all made it not only a good wine with food but also enjoyable on its own.
With your drinks you can savour the restaurant’s own baked Italian bread sticks – grissini. There are three kinds, but the plain ones are simply the best and perhaps the best I have had so far.
Cuisine: Gourmet innovative Italian.
Visit: October 2012.
Price: High (anything near to the prestigious address of the historical Bund in booming Shanghai has an expensive rent, in addition being backed up by an established Italian chef, the prices at the restaurant move to higher levels).
Opening hours: Dinner: 6pm until midnight.
Contact: Tel : +86 (0) 21-60872890
Address: 6th floor at Associate Mission historical building, 169 Yuanmingyuan Road, Shanghai, China