It’s the last weekend before classes start; to cherish every last moment of my summer break, I decided to take my parents to lunch at Xintiandi. I haven’t had Italian food in a while and my dad was feeling pasta, so an Italian restaurant it was. The place we chose was Pizza Marzano, but now I think they’re in the process of changing their name to Pizza Express. If you’re on the lookout for reliable and delicious Italian food in Shanghai, I recommend this place. Pizza Express is a great spot for lunch with friends and family, and you can savor good classy Italian food without feeling like you’re stuffing slices of junk food into your mouth.
Pizza Express is expanding in the UK, Hong Kong, and now in China. They have a sleek website on which you can view the menu (vegetarian options available) and make an online reservation. I made a reservation for 3 people the morning of, but we ended up missing our 1 o’clock reservation because of traffic :(. Since there were no tables available inside when we arrived, we took a seat at a table outside. The breeze was nice, the Xintiandi atmosphere was lovely, and the sunlight was great…but there was one problem: cigarette smoke. If you’re a smoker I guess you won’t mind, but a couple of old men, sitting outside a neighboring Cold Stone, were literally smoking cigarette after cigarette , and the smoke was so unbearably strong that it was starting to kill my appetite. But the staff was super nice when we mentioned this and let us move inside as soon as an empty table was available. Phew!
We ordered the Trifolata pizza with wild mushrooms, truffle oil, rosemary and garlic. If you’re wondering how big the pizzas are, a single slice of this pizza was about the size of my hand (a 5’3 college girl’s hand), so don’t expect a giant pizza pie that you would get in NYC. I thought the rosemary was a great touch to the whole flavor of the pizza, but before I talk about flavors, I just want to say that the pizza bread, together with the cheese and the pizza sauce, was so chewy and soft and perfectly the right thickness and just plain delicious. We could see the employees kneading and throwing the pizza dough right in front of our eyes; I guess freshness is the best flavor of all.
We also ordered two pasta dishes: Spaghetti Aglio Olio and Spaghetti ai Frutti de Mare. I think when it comes to pasta, I pretty much like everything, but I do prefer noodle-like pastas like linguine or spaghetti over ones like penne or rigatoni.
The Aglio Olio, with garlic, chilli, parsley, and olive oil, was a clean and simple treat. It did seem a bit dry, but I’d totally take that over an oily pasta. I was quite surprised by how strong the chilli was, but the spiciness was just right for my taste (it wasn’t for my dad though. He’s not so good at eating spicy – he started sweating the moment he took his first bite!)
The Spaghetti ai Frutti de Mare was filled with prawns, clams, mussels, squid, all doused in spiced pomodoro sauce. Mmm. This was good – not only because I love seafood, but also because the sauce kicked up the spice and made the flavor long-lasting compared to normal spaghetti sauce.
Overall, the food was worth the price, and its taste won’t disappoint. I’d like to come back sometime just to try out their other pizzas!
Tel: +86(21) 5383 3999
The one I visited is the Xintiandi location. Check out their other locations here and visit the one that’s most convenient for you!