Date of review: July 24, 2014 | Reviewed by: Esther Wong
Taking over the space formally occupied by Enomod is a new casual Italian restaurant by former Goccia chef Fabrizio Napolitano and restaurateur Ricky Cheuk (behind hits such as Ramen Jo and Via Tokyo). The space oozes a rustic charm, with aged wooden tables, brass fixtures, and black-and-white chequered floors. Attracting mostly a young professional crowd, seating is comfortably spaced in the main dining area, with the additional option of sitting by the bar for a quick drink and snack, or reserved lounge area for a more private dining experience.
The menu proudly highlights healthy ingredients and fresh seasonal produce, with a note proclaiming that the restaurant’s meats only come from small family farmhouses in Australia and New Zealand who employ an ethical approach to raising livestock, and all seafood is wild and sustainable. The à la carte menu is clear and concise. We first try the chicken meatballs, which are served with parmesan fondue and asparagus. Although tender, we found the meatball itself to be rather unremarkable, with the parmesan fondue being too heavy at times and drowning out the flavour of the meat. On the other hand the wagyu sliders (which comes in a set of three), were little morsels of delight – the beef flavourful, balanced with the addition of homemade ketchup, Brie, and watercress. This dish comes with an alarming amount of crisps (or “chips” as it is listed on the menu), which add a nice crunch. Oddly, our appetiser of beef tartare arrives halfway through our meal; the beef itself is bland and tough in some bits, but is saved with the side of piccalilli, adding a necessary acidity to round out the dish. The portions of pizza here are enough to serve as a meal for one, so it’s unfortunate that the Diavola (tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, spicy salami) arrived when we were just starting to feel full. However, the ingredients together created a classic comfort food combination. As for dessert, there are only three options: two types of cookies and a lemon tart. We were intrigued by the honey walnut ice cream balls advertised with the Afghan cookies, but oddly, the order took 45 minutes to arrive at our table, and when it did, we were slightly disappointed to see it served as a puck of ice cream sandwiched between two Afghan cookies (a traditional New Zealand treat made with flour, butter, cornflakes, sugar and cocoa powder), resting on a puddle of yoghurt sauce that tasted out of place.
The wine list includes a healthy variety of new and old world wines, with the majority coming from Italy, available both by the glass and bottle. However, it was the cocktail menu we were drawn to. The Londoner’s Mojito (Hendrick’s gin, elderflower, sugar, mint, cucumber) is light and refreshing, perfect for cooling down on a hot summer’s night, while the Melon and Summer (Olmeca tequila reposado, midori, lime, melon) gives a stronger kick alongside the fruit flavours.
Servers were friendly and unobtrusive. Recommendations given for food options and drinks were just as we had hoped, although as the restaurant filled up throughout the evening, orders from the kitchen took longer to arrive without any warning.
A filling meal for two with a drink each will hit around the HK$950 mark. While not considered expensive for dinner in the Central/Sheung Wan area, we may skip dessert next time and just order another drink.