Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Neighborhood Italian

Being in the mood for something quick and casual, I thought we should pay a return visit to the newish trattoria in our neighborhood last Monday. Ciak at Cityplaza is the sister restaurant of the one (with the same name) at Central's Landmark, which has a Michelin star under its belt, taking over the space which used to be the McDonald’s about 6 months ago inside this popular shopping mall in the area.

Surprisingly the restaurant was relatively quiet on a random weeknight, with only a handful of tables occupied in the dining area which could easily seat 10 times more. The menu was super simple – hot and cold appetizers, pizza, pasta, a few meat and seafood entrees, then a series of desserts. No particular regional specialty, but just classic Italian fares with some familiar dishes, and some not so familiar ones.

We wanted something quick and casual, so we ended up order a few things to share. The baked scamorza cheese was the one that stood out from the more predictable choices of appetizers, and it was comforting and delicious, with the soft melted smoked cheese baked in a casserole, and mixed with bits of housemade sausages, potatoes and croutons. The cheese was rich and gooey, and worked well on its own, but even better eating as the spread on the house-made bread rolls.

Of course Marghertia pizza was the no-brainer choice. I wouldn’t expect less from this restaurant and they delivered. Straight from the oven in the open kitchen at the back of the dining room, the dough had a good bite and baked just fine with the golden, crispy crust, and the cheese and tomato topping was well-balanced. We shared one 7” portion (the smaller one) and it was of perfect size for us two.

We were in the conversation of pasta-cooking, just as our pasta dish arrived. Here is the perfect example of a well-cooked Tagliatelle Bolognese – noodles were made in-house with the gorgeous yellow color, and cooked to the perfect texture with a good bite. The wagyu ragu was tasty and came in generous portion, and the thick noodles just took in all the meat flavor in every spoonful.

Last time when we were here a few months back I thought the serving portion was adequate but definitely on the small side, but either we had a shrinking appetite or they increased the size of their dishes, this time we were completely stuffed after three shared dishes, to the extent we couldn’t even order desserts. We brought along a bottle of red from home, and the brunello was just lovely for a simple Italian meal like this – full-bodied, powerful, deep on the nose with ripe dark fruit on the palate and hint of tar, leather and long finish. Young in Brunello standard with plenty of chewy tannins which suggest this bottle can go a long way.

I think it's a true blessing that we have such a fine selection of restaurants all within walking distance. We weren't 100% convinced when we were here shortly after its opening, but I think now the team has properly run in, and I absolutely loved the food here this time.

When? February 6 2017
Where? Ciak All Day Italian, Shop 265, 2nd Floor, Cityplaza, Taikoo Shing, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Baked Scamorza Cheese
Drink? 2007 Cassanova di Neri "Tenuta Nuova" Brunello di Montalcino
Web: www.ciakconcept.com/en/

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