Restaurant review: La Piola in Wan Chai – Italian dishes are a mixed bag of hits and misses
The meal got off to a bad start with key ingredients letting dishes down, but the main courses were much better and the desserts were delicious
I never visited La Piola at its original location on Lyndhurst Terrace, although I’d heard good things about it. So when the Italian restaurant reopened – this time in Wan Chai – I was eager to try it.
The new space – in the same building that houses The Pawn – is great, with chandeliers hanging from the high beamed ceilings, and the bar area separated from the dining room by an arched doorway. It had a nice buzz, and the restaurant was almost full on the night we visited.
The meal was mixed. A caprese salad is a success or failure depending on its two main ingredients: tomatoes and mozzarella. The version here (HK$138) was let down by the tomatoes, which were hard and almost tasteless.
The home-made tajarin (ribbon) pasta with Italian luganica sausage, leeks and stracciatella di burrata cheese (HK$195) was dry and disappointing, and the tiny bits of sausage didn’t have much flavour.
I wouldn’t have recognised the luganica sausage in its next incarnation – grilled and served as a main course (HK$195) with rosemary roasted potatoes. In this dish, it was just fantastic – meaty, moist and well-seasoned.
A starter of agnolotti in brodo (HK$108) – home-made Piedmont-style ravioli in chicken broth – was another winner. The ravioli were delicate, and the broth clear and light.
My guest loved his order of trofie pasta with pesto, French beans, potatoes and pine nuts (HK$148). Like the caprese salad, the success of it depends on the two main elements – in this case, the pasta and pesto – and both were up to par.
The fritto misto di pesce (HK$258) was a mixed lot: the shrimp and tiny squid were overcooked, but the fish (whitebait and fillet) were moist.
We liked the desserts. The bunet (HK$78) – Piedmont-style chocolate pudding – had a delicious bitter almond flavour because of the amaretti biscuits, while the vanilla panna cotta (HK$78) was smooth, light and wobbly.
La Piola, 60A-66 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2806 1028. Price: About HK$400 per person without drinks or the service charge.
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