La Stazione has closed, and has been replaced with Raw Eatery (at least at this time of writing)
People say, Italian restaurants in Shanghai are are popping up like mushrooms after a good rain. Looking at the places I’ve eaten in the past few months, that does seem true, but not necessarily a bad thing! (Just no more pizza please)
Before we proceed, let it be known that this was a invited tasting by Social Cloud China and La Stazione for their new upcoming launch menu. Because of that, I received preferential treatment, and ate for free. Your moment at the restaurant might vary, but hopefully only for the better. 🙂
Located in the heart of Jing’an Temple area at Yan Ping Lu, near Xin Zha Lu, La Stazione is a new restaurant jointly owned by the owners behind Goodfellas and Sushi Abuse.
Operations is run by co-owner, Carl Wikander, previously from Mercato, whilst the kitchen is headed by Italian Chef Davide Martinenghi.
There was a big Swedish event on the evening of my tasting, so I was not able to get many pictures of the interior on the 1st floor. That said, the decor is artfully done. La Stazione means The (train) Station in Italian, and there are some train station signage tastefully placed around the restaurant, while still keeping a modern bar-restaurant feel. Lighting is on the dim side, and on certain nights, there is live musical entertainment with a piano on the ground floor. 8/10
As with all of my invited tastings, I give an unbiased score of 7/10.
That said, I was welcomed very warmly by Carl and Chef Davide. The floor staff were quite attentive and took initiative in filling water, clearing plates without asking.
We had a bottle of house white which was ok. The real highlight was when we got to sample abit of a Shanxi Chardonnay. (Which is apparently quite expensive). Crisp and fruity flavour in that one. Very impressive for a Chardonnay made in china.
Salad Caprese. (78rmb)
Ok, quite unimaginative at first thought, because this is like the caesar salad of Italian cuisine. There were some special notes that made this caprese different from the other caprese you have. The presentation was beautiful. More interestingly, the buffalo mozzarella was actually sourced from Yunnan! It’s quite amazing, like that Chardonnay, that you can get this level of quality of mozzarella that is made from a region that no one knew produced buffalo mozarella!
Chef Davide told me that he had previously given this out to friends and family to try, and everyone thought that it was an imported buffalo mozzarella from Italy. It’s worth nothing that one of the goals at La Stazione was to utilize local alternative sources of ingredients that taste unique and on-par with the imported ones.
So on with the taste, the tomatoes were nothing to shout about, very normal. The cheese was rich and had a good milky taste. It was not rubbery at all like some mozzarella, and paired very well with the olive oil and tomatoes. My only complaint was that there were some big salt flakes sprinkled on the cheese, which on certain bites made it a little too salty. On the whole, this was a pleasant and beautifully plated appetiser. 7.5/10
This was the surprising star of the meal. Best parma ham I’ve had so far. Beautiful salty and slightly fatty with a subtle porky flavour. Ricotta is fresh and paired very well with the parma ham and arugula. The house-made potato crisps added some crunch and another range of flavour. The most interesting thing of all was the parmesan ice cream.
The idea was for the slightly sweet and rich ice cream to balance the saltiness of the parma ham. I thought it was ingenious, and produced a complex reaction of flavours in the mouth. Every component from the parma ham to the garnish such as the turnips and sun-dried tomatoes were excellent. My companion was telling me that we’d be fine if they just serve us 5 more plates of these for the rest of the evening. Definitely one of, if not the best Antipasto I’ve had so far. 9/10
Lobster Linguine in ‘Red Pesto’ Sauce. (328rmb)
Linguine on top of generous poached lobster, scattered with plenty of shrimp meat throughout. A special red sauce binds everything together. Chef Davide told me the name of this sauce in Italian, but I forgot! It was basically a type of tomato sauce combined with pesto! First time I tasted it.
The verdict? On the whole, it tasted like a pomodoro, but with an added complexity in the flavours.
The lobster was perfectly poached. Tender and sweet. Lobster is notoriously difficult to get right, because just a minute more in the water could make the difference between perfection and rubber. The quality of the South African lobster shone through in the sweetness and texture of its flesh.
I also found many morsels of bouncy shrimp meat generously included in the sauce, very nice.
The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the presentation of the dish — simply dumping a pile of linguine (perfectly cooked to al dente) on top of the lobster. It looked abit messy, and maybe ‘drowned’ the visual impact of the lobster. That said, I’m just nitpicking. The pasta was so good I am dreaming of going back to eat it with my wife. 8.5/10
Pan-seared Hokkaido Scallops in zucchini cream. (138rmb)
This was originally intended as our final course, which I thought was under portioned to be shared for 2 grown men. The scallops were quite de rigeur — not rubbery, but a little stringy at the sides.
The presentation was beautiful, the zucchini puree had a lovely texture and sweet flavour that went very well with the scallops. Porcini mushrooms on the side were very strong flavoured and very easily overpowered the delicateness of the scallops. The cacao powder didn’t do much for the dish for me. This would be a pleasant starter, if there was a more evenly seared crust on the surface of the scallops, while the inside remained consistently tender. 7/10
Beef Tenderloin, Tuscan style. (298rmb)
greedy unsatisfied with our dinner, I ordered an additional steak to fill us up. It was a good decision because our Australian tenderloin was perfectly cooked to medium rare, and was served on top of some very lovely potato medallions and sweet peppers. The demi glaze sauce was also very smooth and rich, balancing every bite of the tender beef in perfect harmony. This is one of the dishes where components are all simple, but executed to perfection, which give it a score of 9/10.
Duo of mini tarts (48rmb)
I’m not much of a dessert person, so I won’t go on too much about the tarts. They looked pretty, didn’t taste overly sweet. My Dessertarian friend enjoyed them. I felt that they were abit small and awkward to be shared between 2 men. 7.5/10
Carl told me that one of the reasons for opening La Stazione in the heart of Jing’an Temple area was that there are little if not no Italian restaurants in that area at all, so they wanted to fill the gap and provide some quality and authentic italian food in the region.
I really enjoyed all of the Italian dishes that were presented that evening. While there is definitely room for improvement, I think that La Stazione has the potential to become one of the top Italian restaurants around Jing’an, and even Shanghai itself.
The food that were featured in this article will be made available to the public from 2nd of March 2015. (Unless they decide to go with another pre-pre-pre-launch-soft-opening-pre-launch) :p