Located on the roof of Elements shopping centre at West Kowloon, Papi is the newest Italian addition to a series of restaurants on the same level. Unlike the restaurants nearby, Papi welcomes dinners with a family-style decor from its warm lights, rustic shades and wooden furniture. Unfortunately, its informality does mean that the tables are a bit too close together and can make it difficult to have a quiet conversation, especially if one has loud neighbours. The tables and chairs can also be larger for extra comfort.
Papi applies the Spanish notions of tapas and small plates to Italian food, so we were eager to try its large selection of snacks, finger food and appetisers. First up is the rolled thin omelette with cooked ham and creamy Gorgonzola. This cold dish is a delight with a unique texture from the three ingredients, which also balance each other nicely flavour-wise. Next is a zucchini and rocket salad with Parmesan. Though the zucchini and rocket is fresh and crunchy, there is too much olive oil dressing the vegetables, making it a rather greasy dish. Papi’s handmade Tuscan pici with spicy tomato sauce and garlic chips is al dente and the piccante tomato sauce gives a nice kick to the taste buds. For some reason, we had expected the pasta dishes to be slightly larger: they are not, and the pici is akin to a half portion in a regular Italian restaurant. We also try the daily roast, a US boneless rib-eye. Pre-sliced into small pieces, the steak is tender and has a robust flavour with a good balance of fat to meat. Yet, like the pici, the portion is small and for a table of two, we would suggest ordering perhaps two more dishes. We end the meal with Papi’s Tuscan chocolate mousse and house tiramisu. The chocolate mousse is quite good but not extraordinary, while the tiramisu is definitely something we would come back for. The layering of the cream and ladyfingers is perfect and the sweetness level is just right.
Papi’s wine list is dominated by Italian wines with a few selections from the new world, ranging from HK$380 to HK$1,580 per bottle. Diners can have eight different wine by the glass to choose from and they match quite well with the dishes.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were greeted by a group of enthusiastic servers. Managers and servers are friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and wines. Yet as the restaurant got fuller, it became more difficult to get their attention and with a restaurant that specialises in small plates and communal eating, they should take more of an initiative to keep on top of changing and supplying clean plates.
Our meal for two (with wine) came to HK$950. Even though Papi sells a small plate concept, the prices of the dishes are about the same as the normal-sized dishes from other restaurants. We feel that HK$950 is slightly too much to pay for meal in which you are 70% full.