Otto e Mezzo
Date of review: January 9, 2014 | Reviewed by:
Located at Alexandra House, the fine dining Italian restaurant by chef Umberto Bombana pretty much defines power-dining. A regular haunt of all the city’s most influential businessmen, the dining room of Otto e Mezzo quite often feels like a who’s who drawing come to life. A noticeably thinner portrait of the chef looks out benevolently from the back wall over a dining room which is modern, with a glass ceiling, glass partitions and very comfortable leather seats placed around white table-clothed tables. The best seats in the house are the banquettes placed in the two corners at the window-side, or for maximum privacy, the VIP rooms are also very cosy and popular.
Chef Bombana serves a modern Italian menu at Otto e Mezzo, and classic items include his white truffle risotto when they are in season, as well as his Taijima short rib. A degustation menu also showcases his expertise with seafood, so health-conscious diners who are wary of both carbs and meat will still have plenty of choice. We start with a mushroom soup made with chanterelle and porcinis, which is thick and hearty, almost gloopy. Our other starter is much lighter, featuring a “riserva spigaroli” Parma ham paired with Sicilian melon. The cantaloupe is almost unnaturally sweet, which sets off the salty nuttiness of them thinly-sliced ham beautifully. For mains, the homemade tagliolini is a winner, served in a very light tomato and seafood sauce, which is almost like a thin bisque. The baby cuttlefish and lobsters are also beautifully cooked, and its petite portion size leaves diners craving more. Otto e Mezzo has a very small cheese ageing room, which features some unusual cheeses not often seen in other restaurants in Hong Kong. We especially enjoyed the Rossini, a blue cheese from the Val Taleggio region, which is washed with wine. For dessert, however, our absolute favourite must be the chocolate trio, which includes a richly gooey warm chocolate tart, plus Hong Kong’s best chocolate macchiato.
Otto e Mezzo has one of the best Italian wine lists in town, and the wines by the glass also change regularly, as does its happy hour recommendations. Equally as well-known as its wine list, however, are its cocktails, which explains why the small bar reception area of the restaurant is quite often packed at pre-dinner hours.
The staff at Otto e Mezzo are all uniformly well-trained, and the managers make a special effort to patrol the dining room, greeting regulars by name. Highly efficient, they are used to the Central crowd, and can easily and gracefully serve a three-course meal within the lunch hour while dinners are naturally a more leisurely affair.
A two-course lunch set is HK$390 per person, with an additional HK80 for dessert and another HK$90 for a glass of house wine, so adding up to roughly over HK$600 per person. Meanwhile, the five-course degustation (available at lunch and dinner) is HK$1,380, which makes it one of those rare places where we actually think going for an indulgent dinner makes more economic sense.