Don't be put off by the back entrance, with its narrow, bordello-like staircase.
To get to The Shanghai, you have to venture up the rickety grubby stairs, in a dark alley in the heart of the Vucciría (Palermo's historic open-air market) to enjoy what Fred Plotkin described in his Italy for the Gourmet Traveller as “a very raffish, rough-and-tumble place with good food at low prices”.
Despite its name this is not a Chinese restaurant. The place in fact took its name from the owner's grandfather, whom returning from a trip in China realised the Palermo's Vucciría reminded him of old Shanghai, with its narrow lanes and crowded fish stalls. Just like in China, stall-holders will try to entice you to buy their wares - from freshly caught fish to luscious vegetables and aromatic spices.
Back at the Shanghai, order an oh-so-fresh mixed grilled fish, sip a glass of local wine and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the market below, as the upper floor opens out onto an enclosed balcony.
From the novel "Cane di terracotta" (The Terracotta Dog) by Andrea Camilleri
"They went to Vucciria. Livia was dazed and dismayed by all the voices, the invitations, the cries of the hawkers, the talking, the contradictions, the sudden brawls all surrounded by colours so vivid they seemed artificial, as if they had just been painted. The smell of fresh fish mingled with mandarin, sweetbreads of lamb, boiled then sprinkled with cheese, traditionally cooked spleen, fried vegetables, coming together in an inimitable, almost magical, blend."
Trattoria Shanghai, Vicolo dei Mezzani 34 (Mercato della Vucciria) - Palermo