Mon to Sat, 12:00 noon - 2:15 pm; Sun, 11:30 am - 3:00 pm
Mon to Sun, 6:00 pm - 10:15 pm
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Sardine toast served with parsley and mint salad
baked seabass in "cartoccio"
Osso bucco served with saffron risotto, tomato and gremolata
Cammino in English means road, while a looser translation is to walk. Located on the first floor of the Excelsior Hotel, Cammino is a pleasant refuge if you’ve been out pounding the crowded pavements of Causeway Bay. A windowless cavern that still manages to evoke the feeling of a traditional Italian trattoria; tiled floors accentuate the chatter of diners and tables set uncomfortably close together further add to a slightly chaotic familiarity of Italy. An eclectic assortment of diners from hotel guests to local office workers add captivatingly to a restaurant which lacking in views, still has plenty to observe. Wobbly tables and noisy creaking doors bizarrely add to the ambience.
Cammino offers traditional Italian food; a range of pasta and risotto dishes with expected meats and sea fare adorn the menu; yet some surprises are to be found. A starter of sardine toast delicately seared with red onion and pine nuts brings life to this much maligned fish, whilst the indicated sultanas and mint infused salad were missing from our order, the simplicity of the dish served allowed the elegance of the sardine to shine. Sadly, a simple and revered starter of Italian tomato and mozzarella failed to impress; under-ripe tomatoes clumsily cut and garlanded with miniscule balls of tasteless mozzarella disappointed completely. The spaghetti carbonara again failed to capture the essence of a delicately made egg sauce magically mixed into the pasta at the last minute; instead a heavy tired pasta sat forlornly in the bowl. A house speciality of baked sea bass in “cartoccio” is an elegant way of describing something baked in a paper bag; whilst the fish was fresh it lacked the infusion of flavour the olives, pancetta, tomatoes, fennel and capes should have given it. The first sign of disappointment came when tearing open the bag to find to find no aroma to entrance the diner; all however is not lost, a perfect traditional tiramisu evoked all the flavours it should. No contemporary interpretation or modifications made; a simply dessert, just as it always should be, ensured that our meal ended on a high note.
A small but interesting range of wines with an expected dominance from Italian producers. Knowledgeable waiters were able to recommend various boutique producers; a small selection available by the glass or carafe allow the diner to mix and match their wines to their meals. The full hotel wine list is available if requested.
The Excelsior is part of the Mandarin Group which places an onus on higher levels of service, however Cammino did not live up to these lofty standards. A failure to be greeted at the door left us waiting for some time. Things did not improve when we sat down as the timing of the kitchen was also lacking. We waited nearly three quarters of an hour for our starters to be served, but there was only a far-too-brief three-minute gap between the starters being cleared away and the mains being served. The restaurant was indeed very busy, but even allowing for some disruption due to a recent typhoon, Cammino’s service needs improvement.
A meal for two with wine by the glass will cost around HK$1,400, Cammino is not expensive but for this amount, we would expect better in terms of food and service. Set menus for lunch and dinner are probably the best value option.