1/F, The L Place
139 Queen's Road Central, Central
Tel: 2857 1333
Open: noon-2.30pm (Saturday and Sunday until 4pm), 6-10.30pm (Friday and Saturday until 11pm); also, 'afternoon bites' are available Monday to Saturday between the lunch and dinner services. Cuisine: Italian-American
Price: about HK$350 for a three-course meal. There is no service charge. Ambience: buzzing for weekday dinner. Pros: innards lovers will appreciate the well-priced menu, which includes tripe, heart, sweetbreads and 'nose to tail bolo' (containing pig head and oxtail).
Cons: the no-reservations policy means you might need to wait during busy hours. The restaurant may want to rethink the policy of not seating people until the entire party is there; we can see the point if it's one person trying to grab a table for eight, but if most of a large group has arrived, why not give them an available table? Two servers, on separate occasions, interrupted us mid-sentence. We should have checked that the items on the artisan salumi platter (HK$118) were made in-house, but the only house-cured item was lingua, which wasn't part of the platter. While the items were good and the portions generous, we wouldn't have ordered it if we had known everything was purchased. Dried shrimp diavola pasta (HK$88) was nicely spicy, but theinfused dried shrimp tasted faintly of ammonia.
Recommended dishes: tripe with pancetta and tomato (HK$68) featured beef and pork stomach braised until tender. Chitarra with chicken liver, pancetta and brown butter (HK$118) was a delicious pasta dish I could happily have eaten by myself. Even better, though, was the rotisserie porchetta (pork belly with fennel sausage, HK$158). The moist, flavourful pork meat and crisp skin were served roughly chopped on a piece of bread that soaked up the juices. It was especially good when everything was eaten in a mouthful, with a dab of chilli mostarda and shaved fennel and onion. Hot chocolate affogato with graham cracker biscotti and marshmallow gelato (HK$48) was a creative, delicious take on the classic affogato, which is served with a shot of espresso. With this flavour combination, the dessert was similar to a S'mores dessert, but much better. We had a scoop (HK$18 each) of caramel-cinnamon gelato and strawberry-basil sorbet. Both were excellent, with the flavours vivid and beautifully balanced.
What else? The Integrated Hospitality Management group also owns Posto Pubblico and Cantopop. They use locally grown, organic produce and sustainable seafood.