Danieli’s is an Italian restaurant that might well have been the first in Beijing to try to bring serious food from the Mediterranean to the city. More than 15 years since it first opened, the restaurant still serves carefully cooked, hearty food.
Whilst you might expect a fine-dining Italian restaurant in a hotel like the St Regis, Danieli’s actually offers very simple comfort food. The kitchen is characterised by simple dishes that are technically well prepared and deliver on big flavours.
Most convincingly a braised beef cheek with creamy polenta is exactly the right dish for Beijing’s cold winter days. Hearty, bursting with flavour, it literally screams for a glass of Barbaresco to go with it. The juicy, incredibly tender meat and rich sauce are the perfect partner for the creamy polenta. Whilst the dish itself might be very simple, it are well made versions of such classics that often convince us the most.
Equally good are the risotti here. The rice is perfectly cooked, meaning that it retains a certain amount of bite, and the flavours are spot on. No matter if you try the risotto with saffron, or that with aged balsamico, both are simple, competent and delicious plates of food.
When the kitchen does more complex dishes, things are a little less convincing. A poussin for instance comes with foie gras and a red wine sauce. The problem here is an overcooked breast, and a slice of foie gras that is too thin to give good results after having been pan-fried.
Apart from this kind of dish, the food at Danieli’s is refreshingly simple and tasty. Given that beautiful beef cheek and the delicious risotti alone, Danieli’s is probably still one of the city’s better Italian restaurants 15 years after it was first opened.