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January 28, 2010

La Vita Bella

It’s hard not to love everything about Italy. . . from the world-renowned shopping to the awe-inspiring architecture to the spectacular lakes to the cascading vineyards to the magnificent operas and even the Armani clad bus drivers, everything oozes with unequivocal beauty and charm. But nothing tantalizes the senses and touches the heart more than the glorious food. And lucky for us, Hong Kong’s recently had an influx of fantastically authentic Italian restaurants to help us live out our Italian fantasies. . . one bite at a time!

Just up the road from the wiles of Wyndham and down the steps from the debauchery of Dragon-i, lies W52, a four-floor homage to Italian food and wine that is waiting to tempt your taste buds. The ground floor features a sleek bar and lounge and funky outdoor alleyway space, reminiscent of New York’s meatpacking district. Pop in from morning until night to enjoy Italian coffees, homemade paninis, salads and an antipasto buffet. From 5:30pm onwards every evening, the bar is happening with specialty cocktails, wine and prosecco at just $52 and a complimentary aperitivo table to keep you satiated until the DJ starts spinning at 9pm. The first and second floors feature gorgeous dining rooms overlooking Wyndham Street and a solo uber-romantic outdoor table, which has been booked out for Valentine’s Day since November! The third floor plays host to The Kitchen Table, a unique private chef’s table for up to 12 guests, where the chef personally creates and cooks a multi-course dinner using the freshest ingredients of the season while catering to whatever your heart desires, perfect for a special occasion and guaranteed to impress. The owners aimed to create a place, where good food and wine could be shared with great company and patrons would come back again and again, just like in Italy. With dishes like Casoncelli and Pears served with butter sauce and crispy bacon, Fillet of Sole with White Asparagus and licorice flavored hollandaise sauce and Sage-flavored Lemon Bavarese with lavender sauce, and exquisite wines to match, we won’t be able to resist! (52 Wyndham Street, Central, 6768 5252,

La Piazzetta
For an exquisitely rustic dining experience where the food can leave you speechless while your senses are immediately whisked off to the heart of Italy, look no further than La Piazzetta. The long time Soho favourite has recently opened a second picturesque trattoria in Wanchai, offering up even more mouthwatering Italian specialties to tantalize our palates. Priding itself on supremely authentic traditional and regional specialties of the finest quality, La Piazzetta only imports products and produce from Italian suppliers with at least three generations of experience. Craving pasta? Try the hand-made artisan Fettuccine alla Salciccia, made from a 200-year old recipe using only eggs without a drop of water. Want to dip your bread in a little olive oil? Dunk into ‘Madonna dell’ Olivo’ extra virgin, one of the top producers in Italy that yields just 150 litres annually. Must try menu favourites include Linguine with Lobster and Cognac sauce, Spaghetti all Polpa di Riccio (spaghetti with sea-urchin sauce), Linguine alla Balzanella, Tortellini al Burro e Tartufo and best of all, Focaccia, filled with fresh cheese imported weekly from Italy, which is the stuff dreams are made of. If you’re not speechless yet, just you wait! (44 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, 2865 0681)

Posto Pubblico
It’s an Italian American legend with a cool exterior that could hold it’s own on the toughest New York City streets but has a heart of gold within. No, it’s not Tony Soprano. It’s Hong Kong’s newest Italian dining and drinking destination, Posto Pubblico. Exposed bricks, open kitchens and café tables set the scene for long lunches and never ending cocktail hours spent munching on homemade Sicilian pizza created from a secret family recipe, paninis made using freshly baked Italian bread and house made mozzarella cheese. Dinners are served family style with a menu created by owners, New York natives Todd Darling and Rob Spina, to bring Hong Kong a taste of authentic New York-style Italian at its best. Those craving Grandma’s Eggplant Parmigiana, Spaghetti and Meatballs or Chicken Francese will find their taste buds satiated with well-executed versions of these staple favourites. Pastas to try include the Cacio y Pepe, hot spaghetti tossed within a huge wheel of cheese for the freshest possible flavour and Bombardoni Pubblico, large pasta tubes in a Bolognese sauce of veal, pork and beef with warm ricotta. Desserts, breads and pastries are a particular high point with enticing creations like the luscious Limone, mascarpone cheesecake, lemon curd, and lemon sorbeto being turned out by pastry chef A.J. Bellarosa, a protégé of both Jean Georges and Joel Robuchon. Although its recipes are straight out of the old neighborhood, much of Posto’s produce is sourced right here in Hong Kong, because of the owner’s commitment to using locally grown, organic hand-picked produce to minimize their carbon footprint as well as sustainable seafood, and all-natural meats. Age-old recipes, traditional values, supporting the community. . . we’re so inspired, we’re thinking of joining the family! (28 Elgin Street, Central, 2577 7160,

Beautiful Italian cuisine has finally come to Hong Kong. . . now we just have to work on our bus drivers!

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