On the Bund and beyond, a new clutch of restaurants is upping Shanghai’s culinary ante.
By Amy Fabris-Shi
It has been eight years since superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten tipped his toque to Shanghai, taking a gamble on the fast-developing city with the opening of his only namesake restaurant outside New York, Jean-Georges at Three on the Bund. Chinaâ€™s capital of cool has since exploded with deluxe dining destinations from almost every corner of the globe, and judging from the latest crop of openings, the scene is showing no signs of slowing down.
Leading the pack is Vongerichten himself, back in Shanghai for seconds. The Alsace-born chef has taken over the entire sixth floor of dining and shopping mecca Three on the Bund for his first Italian-inspired outpost, Mercato (86-21/6321-9922; threeonthebund.com). More relaxed than Jean-Georges downstairs (and almost half the price), Mercato serves deliciously straightforward fare with a focus on house-made ingredients that sing, from pastas and ricotta to fruit-infused Proseccos. The big, open dining room also reflects this artisanal approach. Raw concrete walls and floors of reclaimed wood contrast with the neon-skyline views through arched windows. Book a window seat, or go communal at the pizza bar.
Mercato isnâ€™t the only new big-name attraction at Three on the Bund, which has re-established itself as an on-trend gourmet destination. On the buildingâ€™s second floor, Mauro Colagreco, a 36-year-old Argentine chef with a two-Michelin-starred restaurant on the CĂ´te dâ€™Azur, is behind sexy Latin new- comers Colagreco (86-21/5308-5396; colagreco .asia) and Unico (86-21/5308-5399; unico.cn .com). Commanding close-up views of the Bund and the Huangpu River, Colagrecoâ€™s dimly lit dining room boasts a touch of the tropical courtesy of a garden conservatory with its own cockatoo. This sense of whimsy extends to the kitchen, where chef Thibaut Pouplard translates Colagrecoâ€™s light-of-touch creations such as â€śsea tartareâ€ť (raw prawn, oyster, scallop, and sea urchin served with crisp rice cakes) and grass-fed Uruguayan steaks, paired with what must be Shanghaiâ€™s most extensive Argentine wine list.
Colagreco flows straight into Unico, a lounge dedicated to cocktails, tapas, and live music. Giant lanterns and colorful armchairs set a more up-tempo vibe, as diners choose from a fun menu arranged according to compass coordinates that span Latin America.
Farther along the Bund, in a 1911 building recently revamped as an Italian fashion emporium, suave Naples-born chef Enzo Carbone and Singaporean hotelier Yenn Wong have launched their second Shanghai restaurant this year. Hot on the heels of Pu-dong pizzeria Matto, Capo (86-21/5308-8332; caposhanghai.com) is a buzzy Neapolitan steakhouse set in a basilica-inspired attic space, with colonnaded aisles clad in rough gray brick, funky pew-like seating, and Renaissance-style paintings. The â€śaltarâ€ť is reserved for a pair of pizza ovens that turn out wood-fired pies and charcoal-cooked Australian Wagyu.