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Hong Kong restaurant reviews

First impressions of Spiga, Central – high-quality Italian fine dining with plenty of promise

Menu by multiple-Michelin-starred chef Enrico Bartolini looks promising but needs some tweaking at successor to Mario Batali’s Lupa

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 December, 2016, 12:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 December, 2016, 11:43am

Mario Batali’s Lupa quietly disappeared from LHT Tower in Central and has been replaced by a swanky Italian fine-dining restaurant called Spiga. Designed by dynamo Joyce Wang, the restaurant has her trademark industrial look, with leather touches and lots of interesting lighting fixtures that liven up the sophisticated decor.

Restaurant review: Rhoda in Sai Ying Pun – delicious, if a little too heavy

We visited the restaurant in its first few days of operation, and while service is warm and staff try hard to please, the food by chef Enrico Bartolini, who has four Michelin stars under his belt for three restaurants in Italy, looks promising but needs some tweaking.

We were given an amuse bouche of cauliflower with Gorgonzola cheese and small dots of beetroot puree along with a small focaccia square and some country bread.

A starter of a trio of Sicilian red prawns (HK$258) was interesting – the head and tail were deep-fried, while the meat was raw, which was an interesting play on textures. The accompanying tamarind sauce didn’t do much to enhance the delicate flavour of the prawns.

Next came the linguine with half Boston lobster and green asparagus (HK$288). Knowing we were sharing the dish, the cooks thoughtfully served the pasta to us in two portions. The dish looked appetising enough, but the sauce was quite diluted, without much lobster taste, which was disappointing. The lobster was perfectly cooked. We were told later the dish has since been removed from the menu.

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For our main, the pan-fried pork chop Milanese (HK$288) was a large portion and came with a cherry tomato sauce that was served cold. We had a hard time cutting into it and worried that it would be tough, although it wasn’t, but it was a little dry.

We tried two of the signature desserts. The chocolate foam with hazelnut ice cream (HK$98) was rich with a chocolatey flavour, but whipped so light that we didn’t feel guilty about indulging in this dish.

Italian-American chef’s cookbook of sophisticated recipes from his Del Posto restaurant in New York

The second dessert was soft crème brûlée with cherries, meringues and iced blueberries (HK$98). Again, it wasn’t heavy, and the berries made it seem healthy.

Spiga, 3/F, LHT Tower, 31 Queen’s Road Central, Central, tel: 2871 0055

Some other Italian restaurants we’ve written about recently

Restaurant review: Va Bene, Sheung Wan - Italian fare mostly hits the spot

Restaurant review: Involtini in Causeway Bay – affordable Italian prepared with passion and flair

Restaurant review: Gia Trattoria Italiana in Wan Chai – extensive menu for all palates