Strolling along leafy Dongping Lu to D.O.C., our family of four (including our daughters aged seven and two) looked forward to our first brunch there. Let’s face it Mamas, we all love good Italian food, and what better than enjoying the freshest of foods with the family in a great environment? Oh and did I mention the optional free flow at a reasonable (read: non-pricey hotel) cost? Yes, that’s available in Shanghai, yes, you can BYOB(aby), no, people are not extremely ill when they say they are going to ‘Doc’ all the time and yes, we’ve got the low-down on it’s family-friendliness right here, so read on!
The Restaurant and Environment
D.O.C. stands for ‘Denominazione di Origine Controllata’, (controlled designation of origin), a quality assurance label used for Italian food products especially wines and cheese. The restaurant, with chef Stefano Pace at the helm (formerly of the two Michelin star restaurant ‘Gusto’ in Rome) celebrates the quality, sense and taste in everything they do and uses these codes on some of their menu items. Other codes to look out for are ‘DOCG’ (controlled designation of origin guaranteed) and ‘DOP’ (protected designation of origin). Capiche?
Located along leafy Dongping Lu, the restaurant’s doors were flung open on a glorious sunny Saturday afternoon leaving an entire side of the premises open. We felt instantly welcomed, and were seated at a ‘front row’ table facing the sidewalk. This indoor-outdoor flow was ideal on a nice day and enhanced the open Italian-villa feel of the restaurant with its indoor rustic-chic décor. It was the perfect spot to enjoy a meal and people-watch at the same time (our 7 and 2 year old were sufficiently entertained with this).
Brunch features a wide range of options from a basic pastry and coffee combination (60RMB) to mouthwatering twists on traditional fare such as Tuscan Steak and Eggs with a Chimmichurri sauce (220RMB) and Buttermilk Pancakes with Salted Caramel Sauce and Pistachios (75RMB). There is a whole menu of wood-roasted bagels, some with unusual combinations like Edamame Soy Smash (85RMB) or Mr. Crabbs (with Snow Crab, 95RMB). Heavier (more lunch) options also feature such as Pasta Marinara and Braised Lamb Shanks (150RMB each). There is a kids menu featuring jazzed up favourites such as a 3 Meat Bolognese Lasagna and a Teddy Bear Margharita Pizza (85RMB each). D.O.C’s renowned full pizza menu (made in their central wood-fired oven) is also available for brunch featuring unusual combinations like the Catamarano Abbruzese (145RMB) with pork belly, radish and mustard fruit. We ordered the Teddy Bear Margharita Pizza for our 2-year- old and she tore off
pieces hungrily after poking its ‘olive eyes’ with fascination. A steak fan, our 7-year-old ordered the Tuscan Steak and Eggs (220RMB) from the adults menu and the meat was delightfully juicy, the chimmichurri tenderizing it further with a fresh twist. My husband and I ordered the Fried Calamari Sant’ Andrea salad (110RMB) with arugula and parmesan to share which was lovely, light and crisp (a treat to experience calamari done well in Shanghai!). My husband had the Veggie Omelet Salad (75RMB) as a main, filled with stracciatella cheese and fresh basil, tomato carpaccio, spinach, and red quinoa with baby beetroot. Determined to try a D.O.C item and a huge shellfish fan, I had the Garlic Lobster Tail Taglioni (258 RMB) with fresh duck egg taglioni, pacific lobster, chives and garlic butter. This was a knockout dish, its supremely creamy and tasty sauce was akin to a very flavoursome bisque. We couldn’t stop drowning the pasta into it and our 2-year- old enjoyed devouring the sauce off the fresh taglioni. The kids then had gelato for dessert – mint and chocolate for our 7-year-old and strawberry for our 2-year- old (20RMB a scoop). My husband and I just had to try the ‘best in the world’ Tiramusu (alleged by the menu) (80RMB) and enjoyed its lightness with the right balance of flavours. For drinks, the kids and I had fun with the 3-combination fresh juices of choice (45RMB). My husband’s Virgin Mary (60RMB) was satisfyingly spicy.
The restaurant had plastic cutlery and highchairs, but as there is no play area, fidgety kids might need drawing, reading or other entertainment. The bathrooms are small with no changing facilities, so if you anticipate nappy-changes or accidents, perhaps bring along a pram for ease and discretion. The menu is very child-friendly (Italian being a general palate-pleaser) and the options are additionally scrumptious here. There is also a kids menu so there would be no problem feeding children of all ages (assuming they are already on solids!).
Top Table & Tips
In warmer months, ask for a table facing the sidewalk as it’s a lovely atmosphere and you can people-watch as you eat! If you have an active toddler however, they could easily take off onto the pavement or the road if not strapped in, so ask to be seated further inside, or upstairs where there is a ‘conservatory’ type area which makes you feel like you are still partially outdoors. If the pizza menu isn’t offered to you for brunch, request it.
Address: 5 Dongping Lu, near Yueyang Lu
Hours: Weekend brunch (both Sat and Sun) is served from 10am till 3pm.
Additional Info: Free flow by the glass of prosecco/wine is 168RMB per person.
Shirani Alfreds is an expat mother of two living in Shanghai, and writes about her experiences in a regular “Dragon Mama” blog for Urban Family magazine.