Scallops and caviar by 24-year-old chef Natalino Ambra, from Prato, solidly at the helm of restaurant Va Bene in Shanghai, in the Xintiandi neighbourhood, tel. +86.21.63112211. Among the most pleasant surprises in town
It is so true that the world has changed. Once Chinese people went to find their fortune in Prato, now it is someone from Prato who becomes prominent in Shanghai. Let’s move in order, though. 2013 ended a short while ago and it’s time for some considerations. Culinary ones, that is. In the last episodes we’ve spoken of famous and established chefs, today, with the new Chinese year we want to linger on a surprise. In particular, we were struck by the quality leap made by 24-year-old chef Natalino Ambra, from Prato, who, since last July, is doing very well at Va Bene (in omina nomen) in Shanghai, one of the most established and awarded Italian restaurants in China – and certainly the most long-lived (12 years).
Natalino Ambra, a young globetrotter
After two years of experience, mostly in Tuscany, he’s called for the opening of the Armani Hotel restaurant in Dubai, where he ends up staying for 2 years. The experience in Dubai is fascinating but he feels this city in the Emirates is tight for him and, in 2012, at 23, he arrives in Shanghai. He changes a couple of restaurants until he is noticed by chef Corrado Michelazzo, once the chef at Va Bene, who puts him in the wise hands of restaurant manager Daniele Baldo – 29-year-old from Bibbione, with a long experience with the Cipriani family, between Harry’s Bar in Venice and Downtown in London – who’s already taking care a young-looking revamp of the restaurant. «The idea at Va Bene is always that of keeping the standard high, but with a wave of fresh air. We want to offer a young-style fine dining, something that reassures and surprises you at the same time… indeed, it is possible. Think of Anthony Genovese’s Pagliaccio in Rome».
Casoncelli filled with parmigiano and dark sauce broth
Va Bene is in Xintiandi, the posh neighbourhood where to have fun in Shanghai and a tasting menu costs 668 rmb (around 80 euros).
Tasty reports from China and the Far East from our collaborator Claudio Grillenzoni
A journalist with the bad habit of xenophilia (natural, he's a Germanist) and food (he's from Modena ), he now lives a happy life in China, in Shanghai, building connections between East and West