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Central, Hong Kong
The post-work crowd love to pop by to sip wine at DiVino’s plush bar area (the pleasant open outdoor vibe with a striking view over the former Central police station doesn’t hurt) before dinner. Touches of deep burgundy and wood liven up the otherwise minimalist décor, giving it a classy, unpretentious feel. High ceilings top the experience, while the terrace at the back offers a quieter alfresco dining experience.
The Italian menu offers both classic dishes and more general European offerings with slight Asian twists. From the tapas list, we choose the buffalo mozzarella, chilli with stuffed tuna and the octopus drizzled with olive oil, which are served in small portions on a long plate. The seasoning was a little unbalanced for the most part – the tuna was overly salty, for example – although the mozzarella was exceptionally fresh and needed no other accompaniments. The wagyu risotto (a chef’s speciality) and the grilled sashimi-grade swordfish fillets were both recommended to us out of the long list of meats, pasta and rice. In the former, the arborio rice was cooked slightly firm, which should have made it perfect for tossing in the tomato-based gravy, but unfortunately the one-note sweet sauce paired with jellied wagyu beef overpowered the merits of the well-executed rice. Meanwhile, the swordfish was a competent rendition, the fish layered with olive oil and tomato salsa. The additional grilled vegetables we ordered were neither outstanding nor terrible. The pavlova, on the other hand, exceeded all expectations and gave a punchy, satisfying finish to the meal. The passionfruit coulis blended particularly well with the just-whipped cream and crumbled meringue. The tiramisu (another speciality) was also tasty.
The wine list is not only extensive, but also detailed. Listing short tasting notes as well marking selected bottles with labels such as ‘DiVino recommends’, ‘wine connoisseur’ and ‘Rob Parker selection’, choosing wines can take twice as long as ordering a meal, especially as there is no house wine. Of course, Italian wines from Chianti and Friuli feature heavily and reds have good regional spread; there’s also several choices from Argentina, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand and even Lebanon. A range of grappa and dessert wine is also available, and for those celebrating, a special magnum cellar list contains bottles priced up to HK$10,000.
The wait staff were generously attentive and well informed about DiVino’s food and wine, able to recommend on cue and also accommodate for any complaints made. A bottle of rosé we were served appeared corked, and was replaced by a bottle of equal calibre immediately.
For the quality of food, DiVino rests on the pricey side, at around HK$900-HK$1000 for two; however, for the wines offered, it is well worth it. We recommend going for the bite-sized tapas and ordering a bottle of wine to share between friends for best value.