62 High Street, Sai Ying Pun
Tel: 2858 8273
Open: Monday-Friday noon-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm; Saturday and Sunday 11am-10.30pm
Cuisine: mostly Italian with a few Spanish and Croatian dishes, such as palacinke (Croatian pancakes)
Price: about HK$240 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: the restaurant, with the menus on paper placemats set on wooden tables, is simply decorated with a few framed posters. There's a fully stocked bar at one end, although we were told that it doesn't have an alcohol licence, so we bought a bottle of wine at a nearby supermarket. The music played is an eclectic mix of pop, rock and soul.
Pros: it's a comfortable, cosy neighbourhood-type place serving hearty portions. The waitresses seemed unsure of themselves at first, but improved. We liked most of what we ate.
Cons: the tapas prawn (HK$78) - described on the menu as pan-fried prawn in garlic toasted in crispy bread - didn't seem pan-fried, nor was the bread crisp. It was more like blanched, chopped prawns on roasted garlic puree on sliced bread. It was the only dish we didn't finish. My guest's special of pan-fried snapper (HK$148) was slightly overcooked.
Recommended dishes: Caprese is always a good test of a restaurant because it depends on the ingredients, and this version (HK$105) didn't disappoint. The buffalo mozzarella was soft and fresh, the cherry tomatoes were sweet, and there was a sufficient amount of fresh basil. Pizza margherita (HK$98) lacked the listed basil, but had a good, slightly chewy thin crust. The ham and porcini-stuffed ravioli (HK$148) with a butter-and-sage sauce had tender wrappers around a light filling. My main course of pasta puttanesca (HK$108) had a savoury sauce full of umami-rich ingredients.
What else? There is a two-course set lunch for HK$88.