Quick and cheap pasta deals for those in a hurry
IF you are a Canto-kid and young, hip and hungry, you will probably love Pertutti. Located in the heart of Causeway Bay, you will find it a great place to meet friends after shopping and the decor will suit your Western pretensions. What's more, the reasonably priced dinners will probably meet your budget.
Pertutti is good at what it does: pasta in a hurry. Think Pizza Hut meets McDonald's with a campus vibe. On the pavement outside the street-level cafe, a sandwich board details the choice of set dinners. It stands alongside a 1.5-metre wooden cut-out of a chef holding a tray of coffee beans.
Just as not all Frenchmen are good lovers, not all Italian restaurants are candlelit tables and serenading waiters. Do not expect to be shown to a table. Think school canteen. You give your order to the cashier, pay and shuffle your tray along the counter. Half a dozen young servers run in circles behind the counter.
We order two set dinners ($38) and wait five minutes for our trays to be loaded up. Meanwhile, we take in the colourful displays of pasta and olive oil and note the strings of plastic ivy. If we had been regulars, we would have known to request our favourite pasta. We are given bow tie pasta by default.
The set meals come with a choice of soft drink, soup and garlic bread.
There are a couple of tables downstairs, but the main restaurant is upstairs and seats 100. The walls are a muted orange and the pictures are hastily framed clips of Italian cuisine from various food magazines. It is 8pm and Pertutti is packed with twentysomethings enthusiastically tucking into their evening meal.
We approach ours with a little less enthusiasm. The mixed vegetable soup is weak and tastes like a ketchup-based broth laced with onion. The mushroom soup is the more impressive of the two and is a shade better than that served at Oliver's. The garlic bread is cold. Afraid that our main course will also become cold, we abandon the soup and move on to the pasta.
The chalkboard had promised pumpkin in the mixed vegetable pasta, but we can't find any. We count four types of vegetable - and that included the single pea. The sauce is thick and soupy and has a distinct Kraft cheese flavour.
The tuna pasta is little better. The black pepper gravy is glutinous. The tuna had clearly come direct from the tin. But perhaps we are being too harsh: all around us young things are tucking into their meals with great gusto. So my dining companion turns to an American at the next table and asks if he is enjoying his tuna pasta.
'It's great,' he replies between mouthfuls. 'I've come here three or four times after I've been jogging.' So they have repeat customers - clearly there is a market for Sino-Italian pasta. It just isn't to our taste.
Determined to sate our hunger, we leave our part-eaten dinners and trek downstairs for coffee ($12) and cheesecake ($23). The espresso is good, and while the cheesecake is the Sara Lee variety, it is rich and creamy and does the trick. Still hungry, we try one of the cookies, but it is dry and the chocolate nuggets poor.
You get what you pay for. Of course, Va Bene can turn out divine sauces night after night, but the bill at the end of the meal is probably the weekly wage of most Pertutti diners.
With pasta dishes averaging $25 and salads for the same price, it is no surprise Pertutti has cornered the student market. If you have never been to Nicholini's, you don't know what you're missing.
Pertutti, 21-23 Jardine's Bazaar, Causeway Bay, Tel: 2805 6889, Open: 11am-10.30pm (Friday and Saturday until 11pm)