Food consultant and writer Maria Pranzo shares her go-to restaurants
I am a gourmet but I am not a food snob so I usually just trust my nose and my stomach more than any guide. I work a lot with Italian restaurants and products and naturally I love Italian cuisine.
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana (shop 202, 2/F Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road, Central, tel: 2537 8859) is one of the best. Don't miss the menu during white truffle season. Other places I enjoy include Eat.it (shop 1, 9 Kingston Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2489 8822). I go for breakfast but I am crazy for their lemon meringue tart.
I am from Puglia so chef Pino Lavarra knows how to make me happy at Tosca (102/F The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, tel: 2263 2270) with his riso patate e cozze (smoked rice cake with mussels, stewed zucchini and potatoes).
For pizza, it's CIAK (3/F The Landmark, 15 Queen's Road Central, tel: 2522 8869). Don't miss the pizza with house-made sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella. For pasta and dessert, I like Alto 88 (31/F, 88 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2837 1799). The chef, Giuseppe Brancati, is from Naples, and his pastiera Napoletana (cake with eggs, boiled wheat and ricotta) takes me back to Southern Italy.
For other cuisine, try Sushi Imamura (16/F Macau Yat Yuen Centre, 523-525 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2836 0056) for Japanese. I also love dim sum, Peking duck and roasted suckling pig. One of my favourite places is Luk Yu Tea House (24-26 Stanley Street, Central, tel: 2523 5464).
With a perfect view for the light show and an aperitif spritz, Isola Bar & Grill (Level 3 & 4, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2383 8765) is one of my favourite little pieces of Italy. This is the place I would go with visitors. After an aperitif, I'm ready to try one of the best seafood pastas ever from chef Omar Agostini.
A special meal sometimes means going vegetarian. Grassroots Pantry (12 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2873 3353) is a hidden place in that is cosy and romantic. I like the healthy soups and guilt-free affogato coffee.
One of my guilty pleasures is the porchetta at Trattoria Caffe Monteverdi (6A High Street, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2559 0115). It is just so good.
Also, I cannot resist Hong Kong egg waffles. I like the ones from a small shop outside exit A4 of the Wan Chai MTR station.
There is not much food I miss from home that I can't find here. Up until a few days ago I would have said good stracciatella cheese, but finally a producer has come to Hong Kong to make bianca mozzarella. You can find it at Oak Tree Ristorante (1/F, Hotel Rainbow, 23 Saigon Street, Jordan, tel: 2893 4442).
As told to Andrew Sun