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La Locanda, which translates into “The Inn,” is located just off the main terrace in Ocean Centre and a serene respite for any flustered mall-goer. Soothing hues of muted turquoise break up the rustic wooden floors and grey industrial walls while an open kitchen adds a bit of life to the evening. An “al fresco” seating option is available, which basically just extends into the indoor mall, but we are happier sitting inside, towards the back.
Chef Giancarlo Perbellini already boasts a few Michelin-starred restaurants in his hometown of Verona, and La Locanda brings together the highlights of these. The menu indicates a wide range of fairly standard Italian fare, with a few tweaks here and there. The Carpaccio di Fassona is not as delicate as expected – with clumsy slices of beef oddly resembling the taste and intensity of a hearty thick-cut bresaola huddled together claustrophobically on a small plate. The Polpo, on the other hand, is tender and sweet but could do without the overpowering dose of truffle that envelopes the accompanying mashed potatoes. The Milanese di Vitello is not evenly seasoned and greasy – we need to order a slice of lemon to cut through the oil. The side salad is paltry – either offer a proper serving or don’t bother at all. The Spaghetti Chitarra with anchovies and zingy capers is served delightfully al dente and its subtle flavours mingle well with each other. To finish, the Formaggi is a very basic assortment of Italian cheeses – nothing special – as is the tiramisu, which disappoints with its dry sponge and lack of coffee flavour.
The focus here is on Italian wines and the list is extensive for a small restaurant, split into region, with some bearing Robert Parker points. There are staff members able to guide you and the Valpolicella Superiore, Zenato, Veneto, 2012 that was suggested to accompany both main courses was spot on.
Service is friendly and certainly obliging, with recommendations flowing. One gripe has to be that courses should be staggered evenly and plates are cleared at different times.
A filling meal for two with a glass of wine each will come to about HK$1,300, which doesn’t sit well considering the lack of consistency.