Date of review: March 24, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
When chef Gianni Caprioli announced late last year that Giando would replace The Principal on Star Street, we were sceptical of its change in location. Now that the new Giando has had a good few months, we entered the space and were in awe, its extensive use of white and beige continues to delight the square dining room, a brighter shade than The Principal once featured. The island, centred in the middle of the dining room, brings easy access to condiments and utensils for serving and setting up tables. We prefer the tables along the front of the restaurant, graced with natural light through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The semi-private rooms along the side are spacious booths that comfortably seat four guests.
Giando’s menu is filled with familiar plates, from carpaccio to a wide selection of dry and fresh pastas and hearty mains. We started with octopus and lemon scented crushed potato salad. Neatly presented on a large white plate, that octopus is tender but the highlight is the crushed potatoes, tangy with just the right touch of citrus.
Carbs continue to be Caprioli’s strength. Thick spaghetti Benedetto cavalleri with aubergines, Datterino tomato and salty ricotta may require 20 minutes to prepare, but the wait is worthwhile: the nest of spaghetti brings savoury richness. The tomatoes add doses of sweetness to match with ricotta salata, and the pasta is done just right. Sweet garlic risotto with red Sicilian prawns and lardo is a surprise. The aroma of garlic is light but the resounding flavour is impressive, lingering past the umami of prawns and rich lardo that melts in the mouth.
We were surprised to find baked scamorza cheese as a main, two slabs of cheese, blistered evenly with golden brown patches and meltingly soft, but even served alongside grilled radicchio the cheese still feels heavy. The grilled lamb chop with egg and pecorino sauce came recommended for medium only to arrive medium-well. The egg sauce was creamy but could use a little more cheese to match with the lamb.
If you must have desserts, the Sicilian ricotta cannolo came highly recommended but sold out on our visit. Instead, the dark chocolate warm pudding was made with Amedei Chuao dark chocolate, whose intensity comes through and would fare better if the dessert was baked evenly, as ours was slightly overbaked.
The wine list at Giando is impressive, a thick volume of bottles spread across all regions of Italy, with informed description on each region’s wine characteristics. The list itself makes an inspiring and educational read, with a few rare gems to be discovered. The by-the-glass options are safe, versatile bets for a casual dinner. The Alberto Longo Primitivo is rich with earthy character that matches with the lamb chops and even richer flavours in the likes of spaghetti with aubergines and ricotta salata. The same winery makes a versatile white wine, the Alberto Longo Falanghina, a crisp white that may work better with lighter starters such as carpaccio or fish.
Service at Giando is attentive and proper, as you would expect in a fine dining restaurant, even though at peak hours the service may seem a little frantic. The staff is knowledgable on the food menu but needs work suggesting wines that match with the orders.
Dinner for two including one glass of wine each amounts to HK$1,700. It is good value to enjoy the strengths of chef Caprioli, as he continues to excel with solid combination and techniques through well-presented dishes. Main courses may need some tweaking but overall the experience is rewarding with chances of returning when an Italian craving kicks in.