The invitation: Come to dinner in Shanghai—crazy, yes. The promise: The new restaurant being showcased, Palladio, in the Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel, would be the best Italian restaurant outside of Italy. The general verdict, expressed as only an Italian could word it: "My brain cannot believe my mouth," meaning it was good enough to be in Italy itself.
Apparently, this cuisine is the current trend—another Italian restaurant opened in Shanghai the following week. And it was the request of the largely expat residents of Shanghai Centre, a mixed residential-business complex in which the skyscraping Portman (which opened in 1998) is located. So the hotel responded by providing a luxe setting: carved archways of limestone; marble and wood inlaid floors; handmade silverware produced by Brandmante, the 700-year-old Florentine studio. And, most importantly, by importing a sensational chef, Puglia-born Angelo Sabatelli, former chef de cuisine at Il Convivio in Rome. Overall maybe not worth the jet lag for a special trip, but definitely worth a stop if you're in town. $75. 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, Shanghai, China; 86-21-6279-8888; fax 86-21-6279-8800.