The little compound next to the US Embassy in Liangmaqiao is gaining momentum. This odd complex is slowly becoming a food destination in Beijing with some seriously fantastic options. Previously I have reviewed Bistro 108 (which stands as my choice French restaurant in Beijing), and now we have yet another killer little restaurant to add to that list, a great Italian place.
La Villa Trattoria Ristorante is a small, focused Italian restaurant. With only a 1-page menu that changes regularly, this is not going to give you the same kind of choice paralysis you may get when you flick through the menus that seem to never end! Pasta and pizza take up the majority of the real estate on this niche menu, but there are also a handful of starters, 2 soups, 2 risottos, 2 mains (lamb rib and codfish) and two desserts. Zero room for fluff here.
I’d also like to draw your attention to the bottom right corner where you’ll find their house red, white and rosé for RMB 25 each. One of the reasons why I love Bistro 108 too! Amazing value on the wines, I don’t think you’ll find a better deal anywhere else in the city than these two restos that are tag teaming on these imported wines.
La Villa’s 1-Page, No Fuss Menu
Italian Chef Alessio wants to keep things simple and stick to classic Italian dishes that make use of seasonal ingredients.
That, and some really, really good bread. Pizza, pasta and any number of other carbs feature heavily, so this is a meal to really indulge! We came Friday night and it was the perfect place to unwind and treat ourselves after an intense work week.
Bread with Pesto and Dry Tomato sauce
This really set the stage – their FREE BREAD! It is so simple and still manages to beat out everything in Beijing. It’s probably not fair to judge a restaurant poorly if their free bread is stale and dry, but I can certainly sing praises for a place that cares enough to do it this well. Here we have a wooden board presenting baked pizza slices with portions of pesto sauce and dry tomato sauce for dipping. Yet, the bread is bang on. It comes out warm, fresh from their oven and it’s the right balance of crunchy and doughy. Impressive start!
Arancini Alla Siciliana (RMB 45)
Our choice starter came recommended by their French restaurant manager Walter – these Italian rice balls come in a trio and as you can see from the photo, it is a generous portion for a starter. Filled with Mozzarella, risotto, beef ragu and green peas, the Arancini were bathed in a rich tomato sauce and topped with fresh sprigs of basil. While I enjoyed every last bite of this starter, I did notice that the table next to us ordered the Gnocco Fritto – Dough Puffs with Parma Ham and I admittedly got major food envy. #gofortwostarters
Beef Carpaccio Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, Parmesan (RMB 128)
Pizza Close-Up Beauty Shot
The Beef Carpaccio pizza showcases that amazing dough we experienced with the free bread and the raw beef itself was very tender. But back to the dough – it is thin and why La Villa Trattoria is quickly going to make a name for itself among the many Italian pizzarias in Beijing is that it wasn’t soggy in the middle. It was just right and they get extra bonus points for their house chili oil!
Napoli Style Bolognese with Slow Cooked Pork Ribs (RMB 95)
The Paccheri con Ragú alla Napoletana featured some of the most tender pork I’ve eaten. The pasta was like giant penne, which actually makes for sharing and eating so much easier. This was pasta perfection on a plate.
Every dish we had were very generous portions and, in case you’re wondering, there are plenty of vegetarian options available throughout the menu too! My only request to La Villa would be to add some veggie side dishes like roasted mushrooms, sautéed spinach, roasted carrots..(you get the picture).
Homemade Tiramisu (RMB 45)
Pastiera Napoletana (RMB 42)
For dessert, we were decided to go for broke and got the Tiramisu and the Napoletana Tart made with ricotta cheese.
Both come highly recommended. If you like coffee and chocolate, then go for the tiramisu. If not, the tart is a lovely vanilla/orange combo that is a traditional dish from the region.
All in all, this is not the place to come if you want a super healthy meal, nor is it going to do anything innovative. However, it is goddamn delicious and a genuine contender for the best pizza and pasta in Beijing.
If you’re craving some comfort Italian, put this place at the top of your list.
La Villa Trattoria Ristorante Contact Details:
- Address: Located on the Hutong Opposite the US Embassy two doors down from Bistro 108 on 19 Tianze Road in CaoChang Plaza, 1st Floor #106
- Chinese Address: 北京市朝阳区天泽路女人街19号草场106室
- Tel: 186 1004 3006
- Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 11AM-11PM
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.