Do you love the fresh flavours of authentic Italian food? Craving a good wood-fired pizza or homemade pasta? Whatever your fancy, here’s a selection of some of the top Italian restaurants in Hong Kong that won’t disappoint!
It’s easy to see why acclaimed chef Michael White is known as the king of Italian cooking, when you visit his Hong Kong restaurant, Al Molo, in Harbour City.
Chef Michael himself was in the kitchen on one of his regular visits to the city on the night I was lucky enough to dine there. Not surprising, then, that the meal was worthy of a man who has a number of Michelin-starred eateries under his belt.
Our feast began with a beautiful antipasti dish, crudo di tonno. A delicate serving of raw tuna dressed with caramelised fennel, olives, orange and pine nuts, made for a light but flavoursome start to the meal.
This was followed by a pasta dish of tortellini stuffed with ricotta and pumpkin in a brown butter balsamic sugo – the delicious twist on a traditional tomato sugo made this my favourite dish of the night.
Next up was the piatto principale, or main course. Here, chef Michael gave us a real sense of regional flavours as well as his approach to Italian food, presenting a seared Mediterranean sea bass – popular on menus in Italy – served with cauliflower and bagna cauda, a fondue-style dipping sauce of garlic and anchovy that has its origins in Piedmont and dates back to the 16th century.
The meal ended with a vanilla and marscapone panna cotta served with poached pears and a palate-pleasing touch of ginger.
– Melissa Stevens
Shop G63, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui
Gia Trattoria Italiana
When we think Italian food, we tend to think first of pasta and pizza. But Italian dining is so much more than that; it’s also about the experience and the celebration of the food and its unique flavours. Gia Trattoria Italiana, located in Fenwick Pier, offers an authentic experience, along with food that makes you want to come back for more.
The décor is classy, with lovely views across the harbour. We started with a selection of antipasti; Nodino mozzarella with tomatoes, marinated salmon with crispy asparagus, and marinated tuna with fennel, olives and tomatoes. A lovely way to start the meal, the food was tasty, and the tuna, in particular, was perfection.
Shortly after, chef Omar Agostini arrived at our table with a wooden box, which he proudly placed in front of us, ready to reveal the contents. Inside the box were white truffles, a rare delicacy that, he explained, are only available a couple of months of the year. He generously shaved the truffle over tagliolini pasta.
Next up, we had the grilled pork chop with mashed potatoes, and chargrilled lamb chop with grilled vegetables. Both were cooked to perfection and deliciously tender and full of flavour. And, as no Italian meal is complete without tiramisu, we just had to indulge! The perfect way to end our Italian experience, the tiramisu was absolutely delicious, as were the panna cotta and homemade sorbet.
– Danielle Higgins
Gia Trattoria Italiana
1/F, Fleet Arcade, Fenwick Pier 1 Lung King Street, Wan Chai
Within seconds of entering Stazione Novella, we were magically transported to a little corner of Italy. This wine bar on the corner of Staunton and Aberdeen Streets pays homage to the bars around the train station in Florence. Friendly and welcoming, Stazione Novella offers all-day casual dining; think toasted panini with freshly brewed coffee, charcuterie and cheese platters – all using the finest Italian ingredients.
We visited early evening and the bar was abuzz with the afterwork crowd. The all-Italian drinks menu offers an interesting selection of wine, cocktails and liqueurs. We opted for a crisp and refreshing Aperol Spritz ($88), the perfect blend of Prosecco, Aperol and soda, topped with a slice of orange.
From 5pm to 9pm daily, the bar offers “Aperitivo”, featuring complimentary delectable bite-sized finger food, perfect to nibble on while chatting with friends. We helped ourselves from the seemingly endless platters on the bar. I loved the lightly toasted crostini topped with a smooth pea puree and balsamic glaze. The smoked chicken crostini was light and flavoursome and the soft, sweet prosciutto di Parma hit the spot. But the true show-stopper was the freshly toasted bite-sized panini oozing with melted mozzarella – simple but perfect.
Stazione Novella is the ideal spot to enjoy a lunchtime panini or to meet friends early evening before heading on for dinner – though, we enjoyed the Aperitivo so much that we skipped dinner and headed home!
– Kate Woodbury
52-56 Staunton Street, Soho
Best of the rest…
8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Opened in 2010 by Italian chef Umberto Bombana, this eatery is the first and only Italian restaurant outside Italy to receive three Michelin stars. Expect the freshest ingredients in a fine dining atmosphere.
Shop 202, Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road, Central
208 Duecento Otto
This buzzing two-storey neighbourhood resto offers à la carte meals, a bar dinner, and set lunch and brunch menus, making it a great spot for Friday night drinks or a family lunch. The wood-fired pizzas are especially popular, and there’s a private dining room for more intimate gatherings.
208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
This is a great place for an Italian meal and some cocktails before heading out in Lan Kwai Fong. Mercato aims to have the feel of its namesake, a vibrant Italian marketplace.
8/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central
Neighbourhood pasta bar Pici has captured the imagination of Italian food fans in HK, with its commitment to serving fresh pasta, handmade daily.
There are four locations across the city: St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai; Aberdeen Street, Central; Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui; and New Town Plaza, Sha Tin. pici.hk
This award-winning Italian restaurant, coowned by legendary pizza chef Franco Pepe and Alessandro Bortesi, has just opened here. Its name represents the harmony between “Ki”, the Japanese symbol of life’s energy, and “Italy”, the cradle of Mediterranean culture. Its pizza has legendary status.
5/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central
See more in our wine & dine section
This article first appeared in the December/January 2018/19 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.