|Vera Napoli Pizzeria Bar
|9:30am - 11pm (10pm last service)|
|No.30, 1/F, Shouzuo Avenue, 48, 4th Section, South Renmin Road|
|028 6293 8803|
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*** (more chengdu)|
Our city is no stranger to Italian food. What would anyone expect with the loads of travelers who have passed through over the years? This newest edition to the bunch does not disappoint. A dinner for two runs under 200RMB. English menu available.
Mark Hiew (more chengdu)
Chengdu, foreigners commonly decry, is lacking in authentic Western cuisine. Despite its seat as one of China’s culinary centers—home to some of the most long-running, highly refined cooking traditions and countless unique dishes—what is it that makes the city incapable of dishing out a decent salad? Or, for that matter, a quality pizza? Most recent to the handful of Western eateries is Vera Napoli, a southern Italian-styled establishment with two restaurants in the south. And while it may not be the gourmet savior that the city still longs for, it certainly offers up decent enough fare and an environment as suitable for business dinners as for family brunches.
Located in the Master Tower just south of Tongzilin Road, Vera Napoli offers a similar menu and value as Del Mar or Peter’s. Its local owner, Marie, co-opened the restaurant with two Italians, and claims that the chefs were professionally trained in south Italian cooking. Visually, it still falls into “down on the prairie”-territory tackiness, and the main upstairs seating area is rather stuffy and dark. While the hostess tends to urge people upstairs, consider a table on the first floor, which is less cluttered and features an attractive bar. Also, if confronted with boy band pop, ask them to change the music. More, shall we say, “palatable,” options are available.
The bilingual menu is quite varied, with its international selection including fajitas (48RMB) and veal (58RMB) while the Mediterranean one focuses on chops and steak (68-118RMB). The French-style lamb chops (88RMB) were rare to the point of rawness, and when we brought our dissatisfaction up, the staff was professional and polite, offering us a complimentary coffee cheesecake (18RMB). While the cheesecake was neither cheesy nor coffee-like, the gesture was appreciated.
Much better is the Italian fare: the pastas (22-40RMB) are always fresh and slightly al dente, and the pizza (45-68RMB), with its freshly-made base, boasts a much healthier sauce-to-cheese ratio than many competitors, who tend to under-do the sauce and over-do the cheese. Of the appetizers, the fried mozzarella with vegetables (38RMB) was well executed. The usual assortment of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and such are also available, as are a collection of Italian and French wines (120-380RMB/bottle, 25RMB/glass) and various spirits.
In general, Vera Napoli is best when strictly Italian, but still far from truly authentic overall. For that, Peter Pan remains the leader for now (though its quality can also sometimes waver). Look to pay between 50-100RMB each.
Westerners of Chengdu: who will be the light to lead this city towards Shanghai-standard Western fare, either by starting your own place (a la Leanna’s) or offering your services as a consultant?! The challenge, to date, remains unmet.