TRATTORIA CAFFE MONTEVERDI
6A High Street, Sai Ying Pun
Tel: 2559 0115
Open: Tuesday-Sunday noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm
Price: about HK$340 without drinks or the service charge
Ambience: it's a nice place with a neighbourhood feel. The homestyle dishes are served in hearty portions.
Pros: the servers were very friendly. One of my guests' request for an off-menu pasta arrabiata (HK$158) was easily accommodated. The menu tells you which areas of Italy the dishes are from, lists types of pasta (including homemade gnocchi, fresh tagliatelle and boxed durum wheat varieties) and suggests pairings with sauces.
Cons: the tables are small and cramped. Two guests ordered the duck ragu - one with gnocchi and the other with tagliatelle (HK$168 each) - which didn't taste much of duck. The sweet-and-sour sauce on the swordfish (HK$208) was forgettable.
Recommended dishes: the risotto (HK$158) with apple and speck (smoked mountain ham) was delicious. The rice was not as heavy as other risotto dishes, and the flavour was quite delicate. The pasta with anchovy sauce (HK$138) proved surprisingly popular although it wasn't as strongly flavoured as expected and I would have liked more of the pungent fish. We all agreed that the best dish of the night was the pork chop with olives, fennel seeds and tomatoes (HK$188). The pork was delectably juicy, while the sauce complemented the meat's sweetness. For dessert, the zuccotto (HK$68) - a cake and mousse concoction - was creamy and light. The cassata (HK$88), studded with candied orange rind, was even better.
What else? It's a very small restaurant, with room for only about 20 diners.