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When the ambience is just as tasty as the food

FOR many people, the atmosphere of a restaurant is almost as important as the food. And La Serra, a newly opened Italian restaurant with a unique ambience right in the heart of Shanghai, is one that will satisfy most.

La Serra is located in a green spot on Changle Road, which is full of interesting boutiques, restaurants and historical landmarks. La Serra offers a special atmosphere thanks to an elegant and cosy courtyard and a glassed-in dining area.

Using coffee brown and white as its theme colors, the restaurant provides a clean, neat and comfortable dining experience as well as delicious and creative Italian cuisine.

As well as its charm and location, a large grass lawn outside the window gives the restaurant extra points. It's wonderful to sit beside the window surrounded by green colors and at the same time smelling the perfume from the flowers growing on the roof.

It's all in the downtown area but far away from the city's noise. Whether you want to enjoy a full meal from starters through to the main course or just a cup of Italian latte it will all be enjoyable.

Young Italian chef Mauro Anzideo worked in a Michelin two-star restaurant before he arrived in Shanghai. He brings his culinary art directly from Milan, offering the restaurant inventive and refined delicacies and a selection of handmade bread and pasta daily.

I went to the restaurant in its soft opening so the lunch menu was limited to seven dishes.

For 98 yuan (US$14) you can enjoy a two-course lunch or pay 158 yuan for a four-course meal - both well worth the money.

I tried the recommended Pecorino cheese, pears, walnut and honey salad, bass fillet and gratin of potatoes as a main dish and the chocolate cake and handmade mango semifreddo.

The salad was satisfying with a blend of thick, full-bodied cheese, fresh fruits and fragrant nuts. The main course was a little so-so as the fish wasn't that tender.

But the dessert made up for any disappointment. The chocolate cake was freshly baked, well-structured and elegant, crispy outside and tender inside. Sumptuous but vivacious, the chocolate cake was full, smooth and rich in flavors but not too sweet. I think it's a good choice for ladies who want to enjoy a dessert and keep their figures.

Wine is another highlight for this restaurant - there's a separate wine cellar in the dining area.

You can choose from the wall of 400 varieties of wine, mainly imported from Italy, French, Australia, the United States, Chile, Germany, Argentina and Greece. Pick one to match your food or just sample some in the relaxing setting anytime of the day.

The restaurant has regular wine tastings but anything here is a pleasant experience.

La Serra offers lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and, of course, the Sunday Brunch that everyone loves in this city. The restaurant promises to have three times the number of dishes on the menu after its grand opening.

Opening hours: 11am-1pm, 2-5pm (afternoon tea); 5-10:30pm (dinner)

Address: 333 Changle Rd


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