Date of review: September 22, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Taking over the space that formerly housed Dan Ryan’s, Operetta is one of many new restaurant concepts at Pacific Place. The casual Italian restaurant adopts earth tones throughout the space, starting with a well-stocked bar and lounge seating at the front. The main dining room is spacious, with an abundance of natural wood and prominent shapes and patterns on the walls.
Tables are evenly spaced, matched with bright and colourful chairs to bring a lively, energetic vibe to the establishment. A large window into the kitchen allows guests to watch the chefs work. We strongly recommend the booth seating at Operetta, as they are more spacious and comfortable than the other tables across the dining area.
Operetta’s kitchen team is headed by culinary director Mitsuru Konishi, formerly at Wagyu Takumi, while head chef Fabio Sgro runs the preparation of dishes. The menu, richly filled with options on hot and cold appetisers, is a one-pager with a modest selection from pasta to pizza and meaty mains.
We began with fried Japanese cuttlefish. A spritz of lime is enough to give these lightly-battered octopus a lift, and the tartar sauce is a creamy dip for the crispy bites. The lamb shoulder pastilla are baked instead of deep-fried, with fork-tender shreds of juicy lamb shoulder as filling, matched with a sweet puree of aubergines.
Pizzas are reliable at Operetta. The nduja diavola is filled with a flame-red tomato base with nduja sausage. The crust and side are both crisp and lightly golden. While pastas came highly recommended from the staff, our artisanal linguini with Mazancolle king prawns did not live up to its acclaim. The pasta was over-seasoned, and the prawns turned rubbery. The kitchen quickly prepared a new one upon request, and while the seasoning issue was resolved, the pasta was still undercooked.
Desserts at Operetta extend beyond gelati and tiramisu. The vanilla panna cotta is sweet and creamy, although the multiple textures of berries (from the berries themselves to sauce, jelly, and sponge) distracted one against the fine pudding itself. The millefoglie is crisp and flaky, although the saffron in pastry cream was overpowering. The blood orange sorbet, however, was zingy and sweet.
Operetta is an ideal venue for casual meetup over drinks, especially cocktails, creatively crafted with a few popular vermouth options. Wine selections are good, especially the by-the-glass options. We started with the A A Sauvignon Winkl 2014, a straw-yellow shade that brings sweet aromas of elderflower and stone fruits, a versatile pairing for both fried cuttlefish and light fruity dessert. The Domaine Patrick Hudelot Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Pinot Noir 2010 has a balanced structure with a fruity nose of red fruits, great for rich dishes such as the meaty pastilla.
Service is the main issue at Operetta. On a weeknight, the restaurant is close to full capacity, and service is a bit messy, as we needed to remind staff to fill empty glasses needed to be filled and change plates. However, most of the service staff are friendly with a smile. Stronger knowledge over menu selections are needed.
A standard three-course dinner for two with one glass of wine amounts to HK$1,100. Operetta offers a good selection of light bites with wines and cocktails, but much room for improvement is needed on service and food quality.