Restaurant review: Giando
1/F The Fleet Arcade, 1 Lung King Street, Fenwick Pier, Wan Chai
Tel: 2511 8912
Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-late
Price: HK$425 not including drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: warm and welcoming. Completely without pretence, the restaurant makes the most of its sparkling waterfront location (although construction nearby blights what would be beautiful views).
Pros: my guests, who were early, helped themselves to a spread of cold cuts and cheese available gratis in the bar area for people waiting or having aperitifs. We enjoyed chatting with chef-owner Gianni Caprioli (formerly of Isola), who made the rounds towards the end of Friday evening.
Cons: our waiter didn't know which region our sausages (HK$198, scented with bay leaves on roasted bell peppers) were from and didn't bother to find out. The baked scamorza cheese (HK$178) quickly disappeared but the accompanying Calabrian peppers were so fiery the flames had to be doused with bread and water.
Recommended dishes: we enjoyed the appetisers and pasta dishes more than the main meat dishes. The night's winner was the spaghetti with fresh sea urchin and bottarga in extra virgin olive oil and garlic (HK$228), which was surprisingly full of flavour because of the generous use of ingredients, including silver mullet roe shavings. The fettucine in rich farmyard ragout (HK$198) also deserved two thumbs up: the pasta was chewy in a good way and complemented the wild goose, guinea fowl and duck stew, which lived up to its description, while also being delicate in flavour. Sicilian lemon mousse with Amarena cherry and almond (HK$88) came in a glass cup that served up spoonfuls of new words: "zemony" described its light, zestful tartness, and its velvety smoothness with crunchy bits was "snackety".
What else: look for the black sculptural wall tiles created by singer Lenny Kravitz which decorate the bar he designed for Giando. The brunch menu offered on weekends for HK$358 includes a buffet selection of ham, salami and condiments.