Hong Kong restaurant reviews

Restaurant review: La Piola in Wan Chai – Italian dishes are a mixed bag of hits and misses

The meal got off to a bad start with key ingredients letting dishes down, but the main courses were much better and the desserts were delicious

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 November, 2017, 6:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 November, 2017, 7:13pm

I never visited La Piola at its original location on Lyndhurst Terrace, although I’d heard good things about it. So when the Italian restaurant reopened – this time in Wan Chai – I was eager to try it.

The new space – in the same building that houses The Pawn – is great, with chandeliers hanging from the high beamed ceilings, and the bar area separated from the dining room by an arched doorway. It had a nice buzz, and the restaurant was almost full on the night we visited.

The meal was mixed. A caprese salad is a success or failure depending on its two main ingredients: tomatoes and mozzarella. The version here (HK$138) was let down by the tomatoes, which were hard and almost tasteless.

The home-made tajarin (ribbon) pasta with Italian luganica sausage, leeks and stracciatella di burrata cheese (HK$195) was dry and disappointing, and the tiny bits of sausage didn’t have much flavour.

I wouldn’t have recognised the luganica sausage in its next incarnation – grilled and served as a main course (HK$195) with rosemary roasted potatoes. In this dish, it was just fantastic – meaty, moist and well-seasoned.

A starter of agnolotti in brodo (HK$108) – home-made Piedmont-style ravioli in chicken broth – was another winner. The ravioli were delicate, and the broth clear and light.

My guest loved his order of trofie pasta with pesto, French beans, potatoes and pine nuts (HK$148). Like the caprese salad, the success of it depends on the two main elements – in this case, the pasta and pesto – and both were up to par.

The fritto misto di pesce (HK$258) was a mixed lot: the shrimp and tiny squid were overcooked, but the fish (whitebait and fillet) were moist.

We liked the desserts. The bunet (HK$78) – Piedmont-style chocolate pudding – had a delicious bitter almond flavour because of the amaretti biscuits, while the vanilla panna cotta (HK$78) was smooth, light and wobbly.

La Piola, 60A-66 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2806 1028. Price: About HK$400 per person without drinks or the service charge.

While you’re in the area:

Restaurant review: Pici in Wan Chai – delicious pasta, flavourful starters

Restaurant review: Kaiseki Den by Saotome in Wan Chai – so good we didn’t want it to end

Restaurant review: Loyal Dining, Wan Chai – delicious nostalgia trip if you like Western food cooked Hong Kong style