Shirani and her family are on a mission to find the best family-friendly restaurants in Shanghai. See what she has to say about Sale & Pepe.
The Place and the Vibe
Walking across the cobblestoned courtyard off Changde Lu to the restaurant Sale & Pepe in Jing’an is reminiscent of being in Italy itself. The restaurant –initially empty when we arrived – soon filled up, it’s homey Tuscan atmosphere a clear draw. What catches your eye upon entering is the semi-open kitchen in the center, which is surrounded by the dining area. The lobster tank and a stone pizza oven provide some entertainment as you wait for food. The vibe of the restaurant inside is warm and inviting, and you instantly feel you can either stay for a long lunch or feed the kids quickly and carry on with the day.
The menu offers a standard yet appetizing range of antipasti and mains with classic pizza choices like margherita and primavera as well as novel options such as braised oxtail with onion and eggplant. However, the highlight of the restaurant was how accommodating and flexible they are. This, together with the fact that most Italian food is child-friendly anyway, more than makes up for the fact that there isn’t a children’s menu. The restaurant is also able to offer twists and variations on dishes, and even makes one up to accommodate any allergies (i.e. seafood, dairy and nuts).
The first of our starters was the garden salad (RMB58). Served with berries, dragonfruit and delightfully caramelized hazelnuts; it was a refreshing and original dish. For our second starter, we were torn between carpaccio and burrata, and also couldn't decide on a pizza or main since there were so many choices. They happily accommodated our indecisiveness with an off menu item, burrata on a prosciutto pizza (RMB98), which was a genius compromise.
Our children ordered spaghetti bolognese, which was also off menu and both found it tasty and satisfying to the extent that our one-year-old hankered for more. Given we vetoed pizza in favor of the house risottos, we weren’t disappointed. Our absolute favorite was the squid ink seafood risotto (RMB 148) with its deliciously savory, garlicky seafood flavor and a perfect, slightly crunchy texture. Topped with scallops, squid and prawns, the dish was worth all the black stains on our lips and fingers when we fed bites of it to our one-year-old, who also surprisingly relished it.
The food here is undeniably children-friendly, the risotto’s even suitable for one-year-olds. The flexibility and ‘inventiveness’ off menu makes it an interesting culinary experience, as even the fussiest eaters and those with allergies can be satisfied. There is no entertainment within the restaurant itself, but the cobblestoned traffic-free walkway outdoors provides space for kids to run and play on a nice day. Highchairs and plastic cutlery for kids are available as well.
Prices: RMB150-250 per person without alcohol
Recommended ages: One and above
Ideal for: Brunch, lunch or dinner
See listing for Sale & Pepe.