Monday, May 28, 2018

Casual Italian Feast

I walked into Gia Trattoria at Fenwick Pier right on time to catch the last glimpse of the colorful sunset from the window in the dining area. The view from the restaurant may have been blocked partially by the on-going construction outside, but it's still one of the best in town looking over both sides of the harbor. Though it’s been a while since my last visit here, I love what they are doing delivering excellent home-style, traditional Italian dishes, either at this restaurant, or at Giando near Pacific Place, or the Mercato store downstairs that I often came for their excellent selection of Italian groceries and fresh produce.

We went for a customized menu this time, with everything served family style so we got a good taste of many dishes. We began with a couple of vegetable dishes – first the burrata cheese and tomatoes, then the white and green asparagus with classic “Bassano” boiled eggs. Both were prepared in the most straight forward way and both were delicious – thank to the great ingredients they sourced. The sweetness of the mixed tomatoes paired well with the creamy chunks of burrata cheese, and I love their white asparagus from Bassano – I was just picking up some to cook at home a few weeks ago at their store downstairs – and this time they were prepared in the traditional way with smashed boiled eggs sprinkled on top to highlight the pure flavor from the asparagus, with the white ones right in season this time of the year.

A large piece of pizza arrived next and if it’s not we had a long menu to work through, I would have finished half of it by myself. The dough was freshly baked and the combination of black olives and salami gave great flavor with generous smothering of cheese and tomato on the pizza base. It’s something I don’t mind having more often at any time.

Two pasta courses were served, with one using the seasonal summer black truffles. It has a rather mild flavor – just a hint of earthy tone – yet it did augment the simple Strozzapreti pasta dish with prosciutto, mushrooms and maybe just a dash of cream to bring all flavors together. The second pasta dish was the tomato-based mezze maniche pasta with whole sautéed lobster. The lobster was not as meaty as I expected but nonetheless it has excellent flavor with a hint of spices kicked in.

We were more than half-full by this time but there’s still a few of savory courses as our mains. The Veal Milanese was good as always, but my favorite this time was the grilled prime ribs, served with more truffles and on the side, sautéed mixed mushrooms and roasted vegetables. The meat was tender with rich flavor. The dover sole was not included in the original menu but chef/owner Gianni Caprioli decided to send it over – it’s not the most photogenic dish but I love the delicate texture of the whole fish which was lightly breaded with herbs and pan-fried.

We finished with three desserts. The mini cannoli was stuffed with pistachio and ricotta cheese plus candied fruit on top, then there’s a tiny piece of tiramisu and a jar of mascarpone gelato. The gelato was so good that I could just sit there and spoon everything into my mouth given enough time. And that’s one satisfying feast with simple yet perfectly executed dishes. There’s no surprise that the place was packed with customers, even with its somewhat inconvenient location and this being a random weeknight. Food is definitely worth that little extra distance.

(Dinner was by invitation)

When? May 17 2018
Where? Gia Trattoria, 1/F Fleet Arcade, 1 Lung King Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Strozzapreti con Prosciutto, Funghi e Tartufo (Hand-twisted pasta with Italian ham, mushrooms and black truffles)

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