Article By David Lee
11F, K.I.Tower, 1 Xihuamen
Phone: (029) 8720 1501/1502
Hours: 11:30am – 3:00pm (L.O. 2:00pm)
5:30pm – 10:00pm (L.O. 9:15pm)
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 150RMB
PROS: You just feel like the people running the restaurant know what they’re doing
CONS: Finding the front door
For its tenth anniversary year, traditional Italian bistro Isola Del Nord has rounded out its complete restaurant experience to match its standout food.
Tucked in the corner of the eleventh floor of a nondescript building in the Xihuamen area, Isola Del Nord has been serving fresh and delicious pasta, steak and various appetizers and sides for the past decade. They haven’t touched their tried-and-true menu but have upgraded the décor, service and plating, turning a delicious meal into a VIP experience.
No matter how much you love living in Xi’an, there is always an immense comfort in slipping away for a moment and enjoying a fine western dining experience. The contrast between Isola del Nord and the rest of the building makes the restaurant almost feel like Narnia—a complete travel to a different part of the world.
Isola Del Nord delivers with its food on every front. For appetizers, the assorted cheese platter was the biggest emotional roller coaster of the night. It is 70 RMB for two types of cheese and some bread. But, I have to admit, it was possibly the best blue cheese I have ever had in my entire life. I was so ready to hate on the dish but I scraped my knife on the bottom of the plate wishing for some more blue cheese to magically reappear. The beef carpaccio is absolutely can’t-miss and I could not recommend it highly enough.
The steak is the center of attention here and it absolutely delivers. I had the T-Bone Tomahawk Steak, an incredibly flavorful slab of meat that makes you feel like a fancy Fred Flintstone. The meat is locally sourced from Shaanxi province but I was amazed at how well-cooked it was, served with minimal flair and a side of perfectly roasted vegetables. You might be disappointed if you are expecting complete melt-in-your-mouth Australian or New Zealand steak, but I found this steak has an incredible flavor profile in its own right.
The rest of the menu is also commendable. For 120 RMB, Isola Del Nord offers an all-you-can-drink wine special. The manager told me it was to help locals understand different wines and give them an opportunity to taste many varieties. I literally could not imagine a bigger recipe for disaster so I recommend hurrying to the eatery before it realizes people are not to be trusted with unlimited wine. The pastas and desserts are also incredible and offer either a cheaper alternative or a nice addition to the steak dinner.
I also find it necessary to offer some directions to get into the restaurant—surely the worst part of my entire evening. Just west of the huge ICBC building there is an opening that leads into a small plaza. If you continue to go straight through the plaza into the opposite building and go up to the eleventh floor, you will find Isola Del Nord tucked into the end of the hallway. But once you’ve found Narnia, you’ll find it hard to come back.