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Cammino, located in the mezzanine of the Exelsior Hotel in bustling Causeway Bay, provides a delightful casual place to meet for lunch or dinner, over authentic Italian cuisine. Sitting only up to 50 guests – most tables comfortably accommodating two people – Cammino maintains a cosy and intimate atmosphere, while its terracotta tiles, burnt orange and fuschia-coloured cushioned seats, wooden tables and framed pictures reminiscent of those you find hanging in your mother’s kitchen, make you immediately feel right at home. Over lunch, they usually set up a starter buffet on a long table in the middle of the restaurant, which makes the place just a wee bit more cramp given its already limited area, but for a casual set-up, I pigeon-hole it as a non-issue. Fellow diners were a mix business people, couples, and a number of regulars, whose level of courtesy made it such a pleasant and peaceful dining experience.
Cammino’s menu is simple and straightforward; not all too varied, but for a trattoria, it is what you expect anyway. Its selections are the stuff comfort eating is made of, among its specialities being your good-old, trusty carbonara, Cammino pizza and of course, Florentine steak.
Perhaps with the exception of its steak, which I will talk about in all its ‘juicy’ details, servings are just enough for one person. We tried their lobster bisque to start, which was just right in all aspects: its size (there was just enough to get you started on your meal); its consistency, it wasn’t’ thick but not watered down either; and flavour, the sometimes intense taste of lobster was in this case delicate but not lacking in taste. Complimentary bread is given in abundance, with, of course, the obligatory Italian olive oil and vinegar dip.
We tried the lunch set, which came with a flavourful pumpkin and carrot puree soup, which had a slightly smaller portion compared to the soup served a la carte. For mains I picked their fish dish, which included two kinds of fish – salmon, which was wrapped in a fresh sole fillet, sitting on a bed of sautéed tomatoes, onions, yellow peppers and what I would take as white gourd. I somehow rarely come out content with fish dishes but this one was an exception: it was fresh, flavourful but light.
We also didn’t pass on the Florentine Porterhouse steak, which was beautifully cooked – done in the outside but juicy and pinkish in the inside – and perfectly seasoned; it came with gravy on the side but I didn’t feel it was even necessary. One thing to note though is that this steak is huge and could easily fill two. While absolutely stuffed with our mains, there was no way we were going to skip dessert – right decision because their Crème Brulee was divine. The creamy flan was only subtly sweet, leaving the candied caramel on top of the to fulfil the task.
Their wine list is a short one, but again as a casual, fairly small Italian eatery, it’s all you need. They have Pinot from Venezia, Italy, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from New Zealand, and sparkling wine and Cabarnet from Australia – all of which can be ordered by the glass, carafe or bottle, should it be that kind of day.
What struck me about Cammino was that strong sense of familiarity. The servers and the managers seemed to know many of their diners; I would later confirm that they do in fact get a good number of regulars. Even for first-time diners like me though, there is that undeniable warmth you get from the servers, who always, always, serve you with a smile. For a small restaurant, there is an impressive number of attendants, 4 to 5, which assures you that your glass is never half full, nor do your plates linger a minute longer you’re done.
For two people, with one of us ordering the lunch set, our meal came out to over HK$1,200, which is a bit on the high side, I think, for a casual meal. The quality of their food, however, and their impeccable service, will perhaps make you overlook the relatively high bill.