Moving from the ground floor of Elgin Street to a more discreet, upstairs location smack in the middle of Wyndham Street, Cecconi’s is reminiscent in decor of the lamentably closed Cinecittà, with black-and-white photographs of 20th-century Italian luminaries such as Fellini decorating the main dining room. There are also two-person tables along the windows; the overhang features artificial grass, but you’ll mostly have a view of the endless traffic coming up Hollywood Road and construction at the former Central Police Station. With a minimal colour scheme of black, white and beige throughout, a beautiful black-and-white marble-surfaced open kitchen and a mix of natural and moderate overhead lighting, the ambience is refined yet relaxed.
Cecconi’s features a tweaked menu since the relocation, courtesy of award-winning Australian chef Michael Fox, who was the head chef of Melbourne’s Henry & the Fox and the hospitality group Tommy Collins. Working in an open kitchen, chef Fox and his crew serve up proper no-frills Italian fare with classy presentations and excellent timing.
We started our meal with the grilled asparagus with poached fried egg—an attractive, formidable entrée that includes green and white asparagus tossed with leafy greens, Parmesan cheese and aged balsamic, with a hearty deep-fried poached egg on the side.
Cecconi’s offers several pasta dishes as well as a selection of surf-and-turf as main courses. We tried the sand crab spaghettini, which was extremely well balanced, served properly al dente and with a generous dose of the crustacean. Meanwhile, the roasted herb-crusted lamb looks to be on the smallish side, but is surprisingly filling. The loin cut, seared to perfection, is surprisingly light on the gamy flavours, and arrives on a bed of borlotti beans, artichokes, cherry tomatoes and black olives. Unfortunately, as a dining trend throughout Hong Kong, all sides must be ordered separately—and it’s hard to justify paying $98 for carrots on top of a $318 main.
For dessert, the blood orange parfait with pistachio cake and white chocolate represents the green/white/red colours of the Italian flag, with a lovely melange of tart and sweet notes to close out the meal. Italian cheese platters are also available.
With a solid number of Italian bottles at various price points, the wine list is also surprisingly global. In addition, the new Cecconi’s boasts a fine selection of cocktails, with modern twists on the classics; unfortunately, the beer is limited to a couple of predictable, standard mass-market lagers
On our visit, the service was impeccable, although it must be said that the restaurant was fairly empty due to the recent reopening. Servers were friendly and unobtrusive, seemed happy to explain the dishes and were easy to flag down. Glasses were refilled frequently and plates were cleared efficiently.
Cecconi’s offers good value for money; a hearty dinner for two with drinks was approximately $1,000.