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A warm buzz emanates from the bar, which diners traverse to gain access to the relative calm of the restaurant upstairs. The good vibes and lively tunes continue upstairs, where tiled floors and walls – the latter with blue and white patterns of people and pagodas – and dark wooden accents and furnishings lend a sophisticated feel, while the low light and candles on the tables create a relaxed atmosphere. The tables are fairly close together so you can hear the conversation of your neighbours, but it’s nevertheless a good spot for a relaxed date or casual dinner.
Italian classics are front and centre. It would not be a proper meal here without sampling the pizza or pasta. We kick off with a selection of cold cuts served with bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Bresaola beef topside is thinly sliced, rich in colour and full of flavour. For antipasti, the bone marrow toast is excellent, accompanied by a refreshing salsa verde. Succulent, well-seasoned and topped with pink peppercorns, the bone is full of marrow and comes with with soft, toasted bread. One cannot help wanting more marrow. The signature pizza, Prosciutto e Rucola, follows. The lightly crisp, thin base is topped with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, rocket, Parma ham and scamorza. It’s surprisingly light and akin to a salad atop a perfectly cooked dough base. The ham is rich and delicious but, with just a few cherry tomatoes on top, it’s slightly lacking in the texture and flavour of tomato. For dessert, the warm chocolate fudge brownie presents a good balance of sweetness and rich chocolate, though the sour cream that accompanies it divides opinion. Portions are generous.
With Hong Kong’s Bartender of the Year 2016 in residence, you can expect some decent cocktails and, in particular, an intriguing selection of concoctions featuring Italian liqueurs served up in signature fashion. The wine list focuses on Italian bottles from across the country, most reasonably priced, with a range of styles to suit every palate. By-the-glass options are plentiful, too. A light pinot nero and a crisp sauvignon blanc are pleasant accompaniments to our meal.
The service is efficient and the staff show good knowledge of both the food and the extensive wine list. Wine and water glasses are kept topped up, staff are never far away and requests for recommendations are met with comprehensive responses.
Starters for two, a pizza to share, dessert and two glasses of wine was more than enough food for two and came in under $900. For the good food and fun vibe, it’s a reasonable price to pay for a pleasant catch-up with friends, a casual date or a nice dinner out in trendy Sheung Wan.