Friday, July 8, 2016

Trattoria by the Harbor

Despite its odd location, Giando at Fenwick Pier has been successful as the go-to restaurant for many who want simple, home-style Italian meals in a laid-back environment. A few months ago, the restaurant moved to the new and more convenient location on Star Street, and taking its place is a "new" restaurant called Gia Trattoria but under the same ownership, with Chef Gianni Caprioli still at the helm dishing out Italian classics day-to-day.

The restaurant didn't look all that different when I went for a dinner tasting recently - I even wondered if they actually changed anything at all, except perhaps the sign at the door to reflect the new name. Even on a weeknight the restaurant was relatively packed with all the tables by the window taken plus our large table of course, at the back of the dining area.

We were served a customized menu by Chef Gianni, based on a number of signature dishes served in smaller, tasting portion, allowing us to go through more courses in one evening. We began with a small bowl of traditional Stracciatella alla Romana, essentially an egg-drop soup in chicken consomme with pecorino romano cheese, and followed by a platter of a few classic appetizers. I like the deep-fried stuffed zucchini blossom as the perfect summer starter with the light and crisp flower stuffed with ricotta, dipped in a light chickpea flour batter and fried in oil.

Next were a few truffle dishes. Pizza Trifola was done in traditional Romana-style with black truffle paste, mixed greens, mascarpone and mozzarella as toppings, with additional shavings of black summer truffles spead across the baked crust giving out the extra earthy aroma. Chef Gianni then brought out the box of fresh truffles out and shaved on top of our spaghetti dish with pesto, bottarga and young asparagus stalks.

There were more pasta and more truffles to come, with the next 2 pasta courses served at the same time on the same plate. Both the mushroom tagliatelle (with winter truffles) and scialatielli with rabbit ragout were impressive, but if I must choose, I would probably pick the rabbit ragout as my favorite, with the right combination of the well-cooked, rich meat sauce and the texture of homemade pasta.

The main courses were served family-style and we managed to have two to share among all of us. The baccala fritto was surprisingly light, like an elegant version of fish finger with chickpea flour batter served with chickpeas puree for a Mediterranean touch. And the Steak Fiorentina – grilled Chianina beef in porterhouse cut – was the best I have tasted in Hong Kong, with a generous serving of grilled vegetables on the side. We finished with the dessert of fresh milk icecream made in-house with condiments and sauces, and we were the living example of the statement "there’s always room for desserts", by finishing two full tubs of the icecream and all those delicious condiments (especially the crunchy almonds)

We went easy on wines tonight. Started with a Lambrusco, a simple fizzy red wine from Parma, then followed by a chianti (specifically, one from the Colli Senesi sub-region). Typical expressive tone dominated by red fruit and not a lot of tannins. Decent, everyday drinking kind of wine.

(Dinner is by invitation and based on a customized set menu)

When? June 16 2016
Where? Gia Trattoria Italiana, First Floor, Fleet Arcade at Fenwick Pier, 1 Lung King Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? 
Scialatelli al Sugo di Coniglio - Scialattelli with Rabbit Ragout
Fiorentina Toscana - Italian Porterhouse Chianina Beef with Grilled Vegetables
Cantine Ceci Otello 1813 Nerodilambrusco
2014 Montenidoli "Il Garrulo" Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG

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