Thanks to a tip-off by a fellow foodie Ms. Sophie Van Pelt, I learned that La Dolce Vita was a new gem that needed to be rediscovered after a new Italian manager/chef that’s come on board. After doing some research, I discovered that La Dolce Vita has actually been open in Beijing for 13 years (since 2003)! It has, however, recently come under new management and moved locations. Tucked away behind Sanlitun’s infamous Bar Street, round the corner from Smugglers and next to The Tree, the new La Dolce Vita is on the second floor of the Youth Hostel Building. It is simply decorated, yet feels very warm and homely and sets the stage for the entire experience.
LDS Snapshots of La Dolce Vita:
La Dolce Vita’s Interior is Reminiscent of a Rustic Italian Villa
Lounge Area for a Pre-Dinner Prosecco or Post-Dinner Limoncello
The new manager/chef Fabio Falanga told us that his goal is to showcase some of the lesser known aspects of Italian cuisine. He has searched for unusual styles of pasta (no spaghetti, linguine or fettuccini here!) and a few combinations that you won’t see elsewhere in Beijing. With only three to six options per starter, salad, pasta, main and dessert, the menu is small compared to many other places, but it is a refreshing change not to have to leaf through a novel to decide on your meal and shows focus and the attention to detail in each course’s creation and presentation.
La Dolce Vita’s Menu Cover
First up, let it be said that the bread is not good and didn’t make a good first impression. It was served warm, but it was dry and just very average. On the other hand, it came with a complimentary glass of Prosecco and some small bites as an amuse bouche. Though the bread did not live up to the standards of anything else we were served, the Prosecco was a lovely surprise and the olive oil and vinegar that accompanied the bread were also of excellent quality.
We began our meal with the Lulu Salad where the quality of the ingredients really shined and the flavors truly popped. It was such a gorgeous salad – their Mozzarella di Bufala was a stand-out!
The roasted octopus was definitely a highlight of our meal, with the smoky flavour of the tender octopus paired against the creamy potato and hint of celery it is a beautifully balanced dish, something I would expect from a fine-dining Italian restaurant and was delighted to find in a cozy, understated place like La Dolce Vita.
LDS Snapshots of La Dolce Vita Dishes:
Complementary Bubbly + Small Bites with Bread Basket
Very Mediocre Bread Basket
Lulu Salad with Mozzarella di Bufala, Grilled Artichokes, Cherry Tomatoes, Walnuts, Arugula, Black Olives, Pane Carasau & Balsamic Cream (RMB 85)
Polpoliscious – Roasted Octopus with Potato and Leek Cream, Tomatoes, Celery and Mullet Bottarga (RMB 75)
For the mains, we had the raguot pasta and the scampi. Full marks to the pasta as a comfort food, it made me feel very happy and warm inside. I still want to learn how to reduce a sauce to get it to stick to the pasta every time like the Italians do!
The scampi is a really delicate piece of seafood that you would think would be overwhelmed by the pungent parmesan and yet at no point did it seem unbalanced. The inevitable criticism is that portions are a little small – RMB 225 for the scampi for example – but the quality was very high and just a lesson for next time to order our own mains!
“Sunday Call” – Tajarin with Slow-Cooked Australian Beef Ragout (RMB 95)
Rustic Scampi with Roasted Peppers and Parmigiano Cream (RMB 225)
To supplement our smaller main, we opted for another starter rather than a second main and the Farm Fritters (3 large meatballs) did the trick! Each meatball was quite unique in flavor and the crispy exterior added a nice texture.
The Farm Fritters – Trio of Pork, Chicken and Beef with Eggplants and Tomato Sauce (RMB 65)
From their very reasonably priced and varied wine menu, we had a couple of glasses of the house white both of which were lovely and stay true to the goal of exposing the hidden gems of Italian produce.
Think of this as more of a romantic date night venue with a nice ambiance. Definitely worth visiting, it is a welcome renaissance for this space!
If you’re a fellow foodie and keen to come and try out La Dolce Vita, you can sign up for the upcoming BJ FOoDiEs charity dinner event on Sunday, August 14th (also organized by yours truly). From 7:30-9:30PM, this entourage of die-hard foodies are always up for new dining adventures and keen to support community events around town.
Ready to pull out all the stops with this very generous 5-course signature menu, La Dolce Vita is showcasing some of the signature dishes that they are most proud of.
With limited seating, I’d recommend booking your seats as quickly as possible as all seating is now only confirmed by WeChat Transfer (add ID: LumDimSum). After last month’s BJ FOoDiEs dinner at the new Tribe restaurant in Lido booked out after just a few days, La Dolce Vita’s Italian Feast is sure to book out just as quickly so HURRYYYYYYY!
La Dolce Vita’s “Mama Mia!” FOoDiEs Dinner Menu:
Set of Canapés
Paired with: Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extry Dry DOCG 2015
Roasted Octopus served with Potato and Leeks Cream, Tomatoes, Celery and Mullet Bottarga
Sardinian Fregola served with Ink Squid Sauce
“THE GREEN COD”
Icelandic Codfish served with Asparagus, Clams Sauce Emulsion and Tomatoes
Vanilla Gelato with Minced Almond Biscuits
RMB 100/head includes Set Dinner Menu + 1 Glass of Prosecco + 1 Glass of White Grillo from Sicily 2013 (yes, that’s 2!)
“Indulge for a Cause”
So for RMB 100, you’ll be treated to a meal worth more than triple it’s value, which is a pretty incredible deal – hats off to Chef Fabio for the very generous meal! This month’s sponsored organization will be the United Family Charitable Fund, with 100% of all funds raised being donated to covering costs of medical visits and surgeries.
Beijing United Family Hospital Physician giving a checkup
August’s Charity of Choice: United Family Charitable Fund
Since 2001, the United Family Charitable Fund has been providing medical care to China’s most vulnerable populations. Through our community partnerships, we sponsor and coordinate surgery and medical treatment for orphans, foster children, migrant workers, and people with disabilities. 100% of the funds raised at the event will go directly towards covering the cost of medical visits and surgeries. We believe every individual deserves fair and equal access to healthcare, and we view good health as a human right that fundamentally contributes to poverty alleviation, social empowerment, and community development. With your support we can work together to deliver medical care to those who need it most.
For more information: www.unitedfoundation.org
Foundation staff, volunteers, and doctors providing medical care on-site at a local foster home
For those who are not familiar with the FOoDiEs concept, they organize monthly charity dinners at different restaurants each month at an amazing price of RMB 100 per person (for a meal worth 2-3x its value) so that guests will feel extra generous to the sponsored organization that month. The RMB 100 will be paid directly to the hosting restaurant and guests will be introduced to a representative of the sponsored organization and envelopes will be passed out during the main course so that after the organization representative has introduced their cause, guests can anonymously donate as they wish! Our hope is that the more satisfied with the generous meal, the more generous you’ll be with your wallet! Donations are accepted in both cash form and WeChat transfers (I always bring extra cash for your transfer donations).
About BJ Foodies Group:
Organizing monthly group meals at about RMB 100-150/head with food/drinks included, this group of dedicated foodies is all about “satiating their inner-foodie appetites for good quality food, conversation & fine wining/sake-ing/cocktailing/beering while indulging for a cause”.
BJ FOODIES PURPOSE:
1. Just to eat a nice meal & catch up with real people & friends outside worklife and boozy nightlife.
2. Opportunity to contribute our little bits to society while doing something we love – EATING. The Charity aspect is a supplementary & added bonus to our shared loved for FANTASTIC FOOD.
La Dolce Vita Contact Details:
Address: 2/F, Youyi Youth Hostel, Bei Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District
Tel: 6468 2894
Opening Hours: Open Daily from 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5-11PM