I'm not the typical Italian because when I'm abroad I carefully avoid any Italian restaurant.
This for two main reasons: they are usually very far from reproducing the quality of the food you will eat in Italy, and I always prefer to try the local cuisine, wherever I am.
In Shanghai I made an exception, and this is because the Italian restaurants I found were worth breaking my personal rules.
They are part of a chain, Pasta Fresca, and the owner, Salvatore Carecci, comes from Lecce, Puglia, in Southern Italy. In his restaurants the quality of the food is the same, if not better, than in the best restaurants of the Belpaese.
So what's the trick? An Italian chef for every kitchen? Not quite.
Behind the dishes the Chinese waiters bring to the tables there is a whole Italian-style preparation: the pasta is freshly made (hence the name Pasta Fresca!), which means every single day each restaurant of the chain prepares the pasta they need.
The freshness is not limited to the pasta, of course.
The mozzarella is freshly made in loco, not in the restaurants' kitchens but in the big factory where machines were brought directly from Italy. Even the legendary Italian gelato, ice cream, is made by Pasta Fresca with Italian machines.
Only the main chef in each restaurant is Italian, the rest of the staff, from the chef's assistants to the waiters to the halls' supervisors are Chinese, or some from the Philippines.
The result of this ethnic mix and collaboration is impressive, I highly recommend a visit to one of Pasta Fresca restaurants to anyone who comes to Shanghai and is willing to try Italian food.