The Italians know good food. From warming Sicilian arancini to Lazio’s spicy pasta arrabiata and fire-licked pizza in Naples, each of the country’s 20 regions has a rich cooking history. But, just because we don’t live in the rolling Tuscan hills or the buzzing metropolis of Milan, it doesn’t mean that we need to miss out on authentic Italian cuisine.
Check out our guide for where to get some of the best Italian dishes in Hong Kong.
Fratelli – Burrata
Pierce good burrata and a creamy, rich, velvety centre will escape. Fratelli – the latest opening in Repulse Bay’s The Pulse – is the place to go for an excellent example. Here, the decadent cheese is laid across bruschetta, among a messy bed of juicy Italian tomatoes. Painted with lines of heavily reduced balsamic, it’s a heaving portion served at precisely the right temperature, without any fanfare – exactly the way it should be.
La Brata – Prosciutto
On Old Bailey Street sits an unassuming eatery that’s marked by flapping plastic strips across the front door. Don’t let it put you off, instead weave your way through into La Brata and order a charcuterie board. Here, it comes by the quarter, half and full metre, and portions aren’t generous, they’re colossal. Slices of prosciutto so thin they look as if they’re melting come alongside chunks of saucisson sec, crumbling pecorino, sweet honey and walnuts. Thank us later.
Pici – Vitello Tonnato
Thin slices of veal, a tuna-spiked mayonnaise and a handful of Sicilian capers. The classic cold vitello tonnato dish is nailed at Pici. Head over to the original Wan Chai digs for the best version (somehow the central branch effort just doesn’t taste the same) and savour the fresh taste alongside a cold glass of Franciacorta.
121BC – Baccalà Mantecato
It’s a classic Venetian dish and, as with most Italian food, Baccalà Mantecato is brilliantly simple to execute. Not tried it before? Soaked salt cod is beaten with olive oil until it becomes a smooth, creamy mousse. The folks at 121BC – a SoHo stalwart – serve it the traditional way alongside polenta fritti. Best enjoyed from the window bench stools, preferably with friends.
Carbone – Spicy Rigatoni Vodka
Is there anything more fundamentally associated with Italy than pasta? We didn’t think so. So often though, beyond Italian borders, it’s over-cooked, under-seasoned and drowning in mediocre dressing. Not so at Carbone. The spicy rigatoni vodka is the best thing on the menu; fat tubes of pasta with a firm bite, lightly coated in a moreish tomato-based sauce tinged with black pepper, garlic and fiery chilli. Dreamy, even if it is considered a bastard of northern-meets-southern Italian cuisine.