Obviously, western-style fastfood is still abundantly present across China, but there’s a growing demographic of consumers – read: picky middle class urbanites in the top-tier megalopolises of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou – that have outgrown binging unhealthy bites in garish food parlours, and moved on to more sophisticated equivalents. It’s indicative of a trend that has emerged in the country’s largest and most sophisticated cities, spawning a new generation of establishments that specifically cater to this demanding consumer group. Serving Beijingers alluring variations of ‘pizza 3.0’ is the newly opened Lievito restaurant in Maizidian, a leafy enclave dotted with foreign embassies and government offices.
Managed by the Good Food Group, a hospitality group managing two acclaimed specialty restaurants in the Chinese capital, the newest outpost is actually situated right next door to one of its sister establishments. As said, it’s a pizza parlour, but one that aims high, serving its specialty dish not only in a gourmet variety, but also in design-led surrounds seamlessly compatible with the lifestyle of its well-heeled clientele. The hospitality group asked local practice MDDM Studio to design the 200 sqm. space, featuring a restaurant and also a bar and lounge section. Following a modest climb up speckled granite stairs from street level, it’s the latter area that welcomes arriving guests, and where the aforementioned material re-emerges in different form.
Here, it takes shape in a chunky bar with matching flooring and backdrop, framing a compact service station. An inserted brass screen adds a warm touch to the setting. Directly opposite, on a slightly elevated platform, armchairs are situated, and when weather permits, folding windows are opened, extending the area onto a veranda. Lievito’s dining section is situated in the back, offering a variety of seating configurations facing an open kitchen framed in a similar fashion by speckled granite as the service station up front. Brass elements, most notably captured by a ribbon that runs along the wall and an elongated light fixture hovering directly over it, infuse the monochrome palette with a little shimmer. Lievito, which by the way means yeast in Italian, offers a menu of gourmet pizzas and a range of matching Italian wines.
Design: MDDM Studio
Photography: Jonathan Leijonhufvud
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