Restaurant Review | La Sosta is like Eating Home-Cooking at a Fast-Food Place

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016 

under Food by Claudio Grillenzoni


Pros:
- the humble attire (very cool and down the earth for people who like this style)
- the truly good food of chef Patrizio 
- the pleasant and easygoing atmosphere
- the nearby La Sosta Deli
- the second floor kids’ playground that lets parents enjoy their meal in peace.

 

Cons:
- the humble attire (not attractive enough probably for people liking fancier Bund-style environments)
- Location out of Hongmei Lu, a bit out of reach for people living in the Jing An and eastward areas (Pudong included)

 

Cross the threshold of La Sosta, and you’ll see a space that looks hardly like a promising place to dine. In fact, the external appearance of La Sosta recalls the fast-delivery efficacy of a suburb eatery rather than the accomplished and composed outfit of a fully-geared downtown restaurant.

 

Nonetheless, La Sosta is a proper dining place with a talented chef and great food. It is the right place to have good Italian home-made pasta, or a well-baked pizza, in a down-to-earth environment filled with old and new friends.

 

The chef we are talking about is Patrizio D’Oro, an Italian 31-year old guy from Naples who, at a young age, moved up to northern Italy’s Piedmont—a land of great wines and celebrated food (not by coincidence where the renowned SlowFood Association is headquartered). Patrizio has tenaciously worked his way up, paying his dues in Italy and England before moving to China in 2012.


In Italy, he graduated from Alessandria’s food academy and started cooking in local restaurants (to mention one: the Golf Club Margara). In England, he spent one year at Canterbury’s Posillipo, fine-tuning his command of southern Italian cuisine. Finally, in 2012, he moved to Shanghai to work for the ill-fated Salvatore Pasta Fresca (from 6 restaurants to none since last year), Nolita and La Stazione.


There are three cool things about this place: first, the food is good. You might as well be eating at an Italian family’s home. And it’s kind of surprising to get that sense in a place where you expect fast-food eatery stuff.

 

Secondly, the customers are mostly friendly regulars, so new guests cannot avoid making new friends (unless they prefer eating in peace, of course). All customers are called by name, the kitchen is always open for friends arriving late, and among the tables you feel an all-encompassing atmosphere of relaxation and common sharing.


Thirdly, Patrizio has arranged everything in a very professional way. In the salon on the second floor, you can find a kids’ genial playground that allows parents to enjoy their meal while the babies are engrossed in swings and toys. Next to the restaurant adults can also purchase fresh Italian food (homemade pasta, imported cheese, and a selection of more than 50 kinds of European beer) in a newly opened deli (La Sosta Deli) tailor-made to fit the needs of families.

 

Talking about food: with a Napolitan chef at your service, we suggest you try the burrata and crudo di parma aged 24 months (124 rmb), the fried calamari (68 rmb), and the parmigiana di melanzane (58 rmb). For the undecided generalist customers, your possible choices range from l’antipasto de La Sosta (198 rmb) that gives a glimpse of all the possible entrees on a single board, and all pizzas, which, in terms of pricing, range from the margherita (68 rmb) to the speck and stracciatella (118 rmb).

 

Finally, aside from the classic international main courses (sirloin steak, sausages, tenderloin stake), I would recommend the fresh home-made pastas of Patrizio: above all the risotto safran and zucchini (78 rmb), the risotto porcini salsiccia and burrata (98), the lasagna alla bolognese (78), or the linguine carbonara and puttanesca (78 and 68 rmb), alias with tomato sauce, anchovies, olives and parmesan cheese. A warning: despite the no-frills environment, prices are proportional to the quality of what you eat.

 


La Sosta is an excellent place for the kind of person who cares more about the food than the glitz and glamor of the location. It may not look like the kind of place where you can get a proper meal, but there’s a real chef at the helm of the kitchen and the place is, simply, a friendly place to be. It’s located a bit further out than the usual haunts in the center, but it’s well worth the travel.

 

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