Shangai Trattoria, Palermo
The Shanghai Trattoria got a very romantic write up in the New York Times, and the reality was not anything like what I was expecting from the writeup. After reading about this haven for artists and poets, I wanted to go there, and made a special request to try it. The "eclectic furnishings" mentioned in the article were actually white plastic lawn chairs and tables, and the place was lit by stark flourescent rods. It's a little hole in the wall, with sparsely adorned and simply cooked fresh fish at not so cheap prices. Not much ambiance whatsoever. I certainly didn't have any problems with the freshness of the fish. If my father were alive today, he would have gotten a kick out of eating there, because it was kind of an adventure. But there were problems with timing, long waits, lack of cutlery and the waitstaff was slow to respond on the night we went. The publicity that painted the place in broad rosy tones must be the reason why almost every table was filled with Anglophones. I certainly enjoyed the company at my table, and I was happy to have the chance to take a photo of the market at night from that vantage point. We all know location is everything. I would not go so far as to say avoid the place. Just adjust your expectations, and know that Palermo restaurant dining can have much better ambiance and service in so many little neighborhood trattorias.
Lunch might be better?