20 Middle Hong Kong Rd, Qingdao
Visited August 2008
Being in China is normally a culinary adventure of the highest magnitude, but when you're with a bunch of Olympic athletes things aren't quite as exciting. In Qingdao exotic wok offerings and suspect things on sticks took a back burner to the security and comfort of daily doses of pasta. Located smack bang in the middle of the Central business district Salvatore was our restaurant of choice and I reckon I ate here three or four times while in town. The big open restaurant has an old-school vibe with checked table clothes, cheesy murals covering the walls and an open kitchen at the end ruled over by a very Italian chef, with a very cool moustache.
The menu has all the Italian classics, but features a fantastic selection of pasta sauces and a good number of interesting meat dishes. I remember fondly a serve of spaghetti marinara packed with plenty of fresh seafood and some delicately tender spinach stuffed ravioli. The big generous serves at Salvatore were good and I was perhaps most impressed by the use of fresh ingredients, especially fresh herbs and seafood. In China were wine is very much hit and miss so I was shocked by how good Salvatore's winelist was. The selection was all Italian, but it was balanced; there were some big Amarones and Barolos, but also plenty of value plays from Sicilia and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. We drunk decent wine every night and didn't spend over ¥200 a bottle which, for China, is good.
OK it is kind of a bit surreal to spend night after night in China eating at an Italian restaurant, but if you've going to do it Salvatore's isn't a bad place to be stuck. The foods authentic, reasonably priced and tasty; the winelist is surprisingly decent and the service is good. I'm a fan though next time I'm in Qingdao I would like to try somewhere else...