Capo on the Rockbund

A close contender  with Mercato for my favourite Italian restaurant in the city, Capo is the luxe-rustic shrine to Neapolitan cuisine by Yenn Wong (of JIA Hotels and a HK restaurant empire) and longtime collaborator, Chef Enzo Carbone (of Issimo, 208 Duecento Otto and Matto) Everything here just works, from the location in the cavernous attic of a historic redevelopment on the Rockbund  to its ‘cook house’ concept emphasizing premium ingredients and ‘back to the roots’ methods.

Designed by Neri & Hu and conceived by Carbone, the space is striking, imaginative; one of only a few destination restaurants on the Bund with no Bund view, and the place does not suffer from it. Low ceilings, dark corners and winding corridors evoke a sense of mystique, while hand-blown light fixtures and repurposed wood fill the space with a warm aura. Indeed, the  entire experience seems almost religious. Enzo tells me his inspiration was the scene of The Last Supper, an ode to his religious upbringing or perhaps, a personal sense of self-reckoning.

Then there’s the menu. Food takes centre stage here, with open windows looking into the kitchen, a fresh crudo bar and twin wood and charcoal-fired ovens dominating an entire wall of the restaurant. These were imported brick by brick from Italy and hand-built by an artisan from Naples; one is used to grill meat and seafood over Binchotan charcoal from Japan, and the other  is used exclusively to bake Napoletana pizzas over apple wood (according to the exact standards set by The Association Verace Pizza Napoletana). Enzo’s obsession with quality of ingredients is evident in his sourcing, commissioning rare-breed, artisanal meat with no growth hormones or antibiotics, exclusively reared for Capo by Jack’s Creeks Organic Farm in Australia.

All this comes with a price. At an average bill of about 400-500 RMB a person, this can only be an occasional treat for the majority of us, but Capo has no problems filling its seats. Guests are an even split of Chinese and Westerners; corporate bigwigs and moneyed Shanghainese.  On one visit (full disclosure: media dinner) we sat next to the CEO of Lamborghini who counts himself a regular, and a good-looking young Chinese couple with a healthy appetite and also, evidently, a hefty wallet.

Several private rooms off the main dining room lend even more to an air of exclusivity, each offering a level of experience beyond ordinary imagination. In one, a wine cabinet is stocked with the finest selections, from which guests are instructed to ‘drink as they wish’, and another looks directly into the kitchen through a one-way mirror while food is served through a window from stove to table. Those who want an even more immersive experience with their food can opt for the “Chef’s Table”, located directly in the kitchen.

The one questionable aspect about Capo would be its sharing a wall- and bathroom- with Muse next door (due to plumbing limitations in the historic building). On weekends after midnight, expect to endure loud bass thumping and perhaps uncomfortable encounters with drunken revellers in line for the bathroom.

Capo
5/F, Yifeng Galleria, 99 East Beijing Road, Shanghai, China
Open daily – Sundays to Wednesdays from 5:30pm to 1am, Thursdays to Saturdays from 5:30pm to 2am.

 

Crudo Platter- raw fish, shellfish and crustaceans Slow cooked French-cut whole Australian Lamb Rack with roasted garlic and tomatoes on the side Slow cooked French-cut whole Australian Lamb Rack with roasted garlic and tomatoes on the side Freshly baked bread
Orata- Whole jet imported Dalian Sea Bream cooked in Sicilian sea salt crust Orata- Whole jet imported Dalian Sea Bream cooked in Sicilian sea salt crust Tortelli - home hand-crafted organic egg tortelli , Italian fennel pork sausage, ricotta and scamorza with fresh Italian “pacchetelle di pomodoro”, stracciatella and basil Margherita- Basil, mozzarella, grana padana Hot Venchi Chocolate Soufflé with coconut ice cream Old Fashioned- craft cocktails Capo Main Dining Room Capo Reception- da Vinci's The Last Supper greets guests Capo Table- One-way mirror looking into the kitchen Capo's Pizza Ovens - built by a Naples artisan
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Crudo Platter- raw fish, shellfish and crustaceans Slow cooked French-cut whole Australian Lamb Rack with roasted garlic and tomatoes on the side Slow cooked French-cut whole Australian Lamb Rack with roasted garlic and tomatoes on the side Freshly baked bread
Orata- Whole jet imported Dalian Sea Bream cooked in Sicilian sea salt crust Orata- Whole jet imported Dalian Sea Bream cooked in Sicilian sea salt crust Tortelli - home hand-crafted organic egg tortelli , Italian fennel pork sausage, ricotta and scamorza with fresh Italian “pacchetelle di pomodoro”, stracciatella and basil Margherita- Basil, mozzarella, grana padana Hot Venchi Chocolate Soufflé with coconut ice cream Old Fashioned- craft cocktails Capo Main Dining Room Capo Reception- da Vinci's The Last Supper greets guests Capo Table- One-way mirror looking into the kitchen Capo's Pizza Ovens - built by a Naples artisan
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Jing | 22.02.14 at 11:40 PM |

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