ISOLA Hong Kong is known for its sensational view of the iconic Victoria harbor and Kowloon skyline. The Isola restaurant in Shanghai does a great job when it comes to a beautiful view as well. Strategically located facing the city’s landmark Pearl Tower and overlooking bustling Lujiazui, this high-end Italian restaurant is definitely worth a visit.
Staying true to the restaurant’s strategy of getting top locations and its history of operating out of shopping centers, Isola Shanghai is located on the fourth floor of IFC Mall Pudong, where it secured a better view than other dining outlets thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the spacious dining space.
It combines a contemporary “white on white” design reminiscent of its Hong Kong counterpart with a spacious outdoor terrace, VIP rooms and an intimate cocktail lounge for different requirements. White table clothes and candles plus the impressive view make this restaurants rather romantic. The whole space can seat up to 200 people, making it an ideal choice for extravagant events as well.
Italian chef Silvestro Zanella headed the kitchen for a year. Before joining Isola Shanghai, he was the sue chef at Marco Sacco’s 2-Michelin star restaurant Piccolo Lago in Italy. Sacco is also the consultant for Isola. He believes that mixing tradition and experimentation can work out well — as long as its done in a sensible manner.
Though Isola keeps its signature dishes from Hong Kong, the menu changes every season depending on the fresh produce available in the market.
Since Zanella got on board, he has changed most of the products used in the kitchen to create dishes made of the best quality ingredients available.
The award-winning pizza with black truffle, crescenza, mozzarella fresh salad is still among the best sellers but on a recent visit, I decided go with the dishes the chef recommended.
My dinner started off with a warm seafood salad (228 yuan), an assortment of fresh seafood including Italian red prawn from Mazara, Hokkaido scallop, Argentina prawn, Spanish octopus and Atlantic sea bass. It’s got a very genuine Mediterranean flavor and you can taste the freshness.
The second course — saffron risotto with mushroom, chives, rose and blueberries (138 yuan) — was the highlight. It is a hassle to make perfect risotto at home since you need to constantly stir it, but for lovers of Italian food, there’s few dishes that are more delightful than a good traditional Milanese saffron risotto. Isola’s version was just perfect. The mushrooms and berries added a unique flavor and turned the dish into a beautiful mix of colors.
Italian veal tenderloin, foie gras sauce, polenta crumble and grilled sweet green pepper and morel (348 yuan) was the main dish the chef had recommended. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of veal and foie gras combinations, but the foie gras sauce made at Isola is not overwhelming and greasy, but managed to add a balanced taste to the veal tenderloin.
Isola is also proud of its extensive weekend brunch. It’s a fantastic opportunity to sample what the kitchen can do at very reasonable prices. A selection of starters from the buffet table, a choice of mains, plus sweet buffet corner will set you back 228 yuan per person. With a breathtaking view of Shanghai, who could resist?
Address: Shop L4-17, Shanghai IFC Mall, No. 8 Century Avenue