Ticking all the boxes
3/F, LHT Tower
31 Queen's Road Central
Celebrity chef? Check. Hot location? Check. Chic decor? Check. Lupa, the Hong Kong debut for Italian-American superchef Mario Batali and New York restaurateur Joe Bastianich, would seem to have everything going for it. And, in many ways, it does.
The Roman trattoria-inspired menu features a variety of antipasti, from salami and seafood to salad, fritters, home-made pasta and roasted meats. It also boasts an extensive - and mostly Italian - wine list that includes bottles from Batali and Bastianich's own vineyards. And to top it off, the third-floor eatery has one of the best outdoor bars and dining spaces in Central.
Sitting inside, we sampled the grilled raddichio with scarmorza (HK$98) and fritelle di prosciutto (HK$88). The former was a bit bland and heavy on the cheese, while the latter was far too salty with the mixture of cured ham and parmigiano reggiano. Razor clams with fregola (pearl-shaped pasta) and basil (HK$108) were tasty at first bite but got progressively saltier the deeper we dug.
Bucatini al'amatriciana (HK$178) and homemade garganelli with oxtail ragu (HK$198) were rich and flavourful, if a bit oily. Thankfully, Bastianich's light and easy-to-drink Friulano Vigne Orsone 2010 (HK$260) made for a nice pairing. The creamy panna cotta (HK$98) also helped cleanse the palate after our filling meal.
While the restaurant had an abundance of staff milling about, we found the service somewhat awkward and not as knowledgeable as would be expected.