I was searching for a memorable place for my last dinner in Shanghai. Then I came across LAGO by Julian Serrano, the sister restaurant to the Las Vegas LAGO at Bellagio Las Vegas. Think Italian food with a tapas philosophy, which makes sense from a Spanish chef.
Bellagio Shanghai – part of The Leading Hotels of the World family – finally opened their highly-anticipated hotel at the start of the month to create a sister hotel to their famous Bellagio Towers in Las Vegas.
Bellagio’s first ever hotel outside of North America officially opened in 2018, bringing a little bit of that garish Vegas chic to the historic Bund in China’s most dynamic city.
LAGO by Julian Serrano
An Italian restaurant by a Spanish chef? Appetizers are the new entrées and small plates, bold flavors are the maxims proclaimed by two-star Michelin chef Julian Serrano of LAGO, the fine dining eatery at Bellagio Shanghai. The order of the day here is a new take on social dining.
The Interior Design
Conceived by Studio Munge, LAGO’s avant-garde interiors juxtaposes Shanghai’s historic Puxi district and infuses the luxurious hotel with an electrifying modernity. LAGO embodies Italian Futurismo; a sweeping artistic and cultural movement that focuses on forward-thinking dynamism and experimentation.
The sister restaurant to their flagship in Vegas, entry to LAGO is dramatic, through a striking tunnel-corridor. Impactful features include a dynamic corridor shaped by dozens of crystalline fins in vibrant shades of blue, smooth abstract ceiling panels that gently overlap across the ceiling, and a floor-to-ceiling smoked glass wine display. LAGO’s striking interior architecture and extensive custom furniture propels Shanghai into the infinite potential of tomorrow.
It opens up into a well-appointed marble and glass restaurant designed in the distinctive boot shape of Italy. The cupola (or ball, or Sicily), where we were seated, must be one of the only dining rooms in Shanghai with views over the Suzhou Creek, across the Huangpu and the lights of Lujiazui. And stunning they are.
Overseeing the kitchen is a familiar Shanghai face, Mexican Jair Gudino Chavez, formerly of 1515 WEST Chophouse in the Jing’an Shangri-la, and the man behind the revamped menu at The Captain. He kicks off every meal with an amuse bouche designed that day, dependant on what is fresh. And today it was a goat cheese ricotta on a raspberry compote.
The spicy tomato dip was wonderful with the breads, which consisted of a couple of soft dinner rolls (absolutely fabulous soft inside), slices of baguette and crackers. Not an exciting selection, and they forgot to give us the plate for olive oil and vinegar. Also it took them forever to get us butter.
Nobody likes a overly-long or overly-elaborate menu, and LAGO’s is a pleasantly efficient two-page affair, featuring Serrano’s take on the Italian repertoire – antipasto, pastas, risottos, pizzas seafood and mains. All are a smaller size, to be ordered to share – a concept diner’s in this city have surely come to know and love.
Creamy and fresh, but they had been over-washed and it tasted like tap water. It was always a hit and miss with fresh oysters in China. This was a miss, they need to train the person how to properly shuck the oysters.
While the polenta had a great truffle taste, the scallops were dry and not very exciting.
The jamon tasted stale. Not worth the price we paid for.
After three disappointing starters, finally something we enjoyed – the Caesar. Made with good parmigiana cheese and freshly made croutons, the Caesar was well executed – even dressing, but not drowning in them. The only fault, the portion was too small to share. Definitely not the tapas concept that they had in LV.
Pasta – Linguine Frutti di Mare
Not the typical tomato based sauce, the linguine used only olive oil and garlic with herbs for aroma. Again, the portion was small and it was cold when served. If it was warmer, the seafood linguine would have tasted better.
Nice piece of steak, well marbled (M7+) and perfectly grilled. The accompanying black sauce was not introduced, but it was better without them. Just salt and pepper will do.
The side we ordered was asparagus. I have no idea were they grilled or steamed. Very plain for an expensive side.
Chavez does something brilliant with the Amalfi, remixing a signature on the Las Vegas Lago’s line-up. It’s the Italian coastline put on a plate: show-stopping swirls of ocean blue on a small passionfruit cheesecake with a scoop of limoncello sorbet.
The price we paid for the dinner was not worth the food that was presented. Overall it was not one restaurant that I would be returning any time soon. Nor will it get a star I predict.
LAGO by Julian Serrano
6/F, Bellagio Hotel, 188 Bei Suzhou Lu, near Zhapu Lu, Hongkou District
Tel : +86 (21) 3680 6777
Date Visited : Aug 2021