Header image courtesy of Posto Pubblico (via Facebook)
From spaghetti with meatballs to baked ziti and lasagna, the Italian-American community has given the United States some of its most beloved and iconic dishes. As the story goes, Southern Italian immigrants who settled in the US around the turn of the twentieth century discovered that ingredients like cheese, tomatoes, meat, and garlic could be found cheaply and in abundance in their new home. They adapted their recipes to accommodate these bounties, and those resourceful home cooks are who we have to thank for meatball sandwiches, chicken parmigiana, pepperoni pizza, and more. If you, like us, have found yourself hankering for a soul-warming bowl of spaghetti with red sauce, keep reading to find out where to get the best Italian-American food in Hong Kong.
From its name to its jazzy, New York-inspired vibe, Frank’s wears its Italian-American heritage as proudly as its bright red neon signage—although its namesake is Frank Amen, a New Jersey restaurateur, and not Ol’ Blue Eyes, as some might believe. This concept from the aptly named Red Sauce Hospitality comprises a cocktail bar and lounge on the ground floor and a more intimate dining room upstairs, with late-night hours and great music giving the whole place a clubhouse feel.
After three years as one of the hottest haunts on Wyndham Street, Frank’s recently went through an evolution, debuting a new menu and cocktail programme alongside a refreshed look and bigger and better sound system. Nibble on bar bites like veal & lobster meatballs ($85 per piece) and crisp balls of braised oxtail suppli ($115) downstairs, or tuck into a proper Italian-American feast of pan-fried lasagna ($165), crustacean scampi ($395), and smoked black cod ($195) upstairs.
Frank’s, 79 Wyndham Street, Central | (+852) 9097 9730
This outpost of New York’s acclaimed restaurant of the same name is one of Black Sheep Restaurants’ first successes. Six years on, it continues to be a jewel in the group’s crown. With its mid-century aesthetic and besuited staff, dining at Carbone feels like being transported to 1950s New York.
The spicy rigatoni alla vodka ($268) and Mario’s meatballs ($288)—named after the Mario Carbone himself—are must-orders, while we like the luxurious lobster ravioli ($348) and NY bone-in strip ($628) for special occasions. Don’t forget to finish everything off with a slice of lemon cheesecake and a shot of “Jackcello,” the spicy limoncello named after Black Sheep’s group maître d’, the legendary Jack Gonsalves.
Carbone, 9/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central | (+852) 2593 2593
As the inaugural restaurant from what is now Red Sauce Hospitality, Posto Pubblico (a.k.a. “Posto”) has graced Soho with its New York-inspired charm for almost 12 years. The restaurant, whose aesthetic is a winning combination of industrial cool and old-school charm, is a love letter to the New York osterias that founders Todd Darling and Robert Spina came up in. The majority of recipes were handed down from Spina’s restaurateur family, while all the produce is delivered daily by Homegrown Foods—the group’s agriculture arm—from sustainable and organic local farms.
Cosy up with a date in the private booths over a plate of their famous veal meatballs ($149) or sip on an espresso martini ($109) at the large curved bar. If you happen to live or work close by, the set lunch ($148) is an absolute steal, comprising one antipasti, a generously portioned secondi (we like the linguine vongole made with local clams), and a dessert. Don’t forget to peep their Brooklyn-inspired toile wallpaper in the bathroom, which was designed by none other than Mike Diamond from Beastie Boys.
Posto Pubblico, 28 Elgin Street, Soho, Central | (+852) 2577 7160
Tucked away at the bottom end of Elgin Street, Mostaccioli Brothers (or “Mo Bros”) has been one of Soho’s best-kept secrets for over 10 years. Make your way down a set of stairs to find this rustic, surprisingly spacious trattoria, complete with a massive mural of Italian pasture and French doors leading out to an alfresco patio.
Named after baked mostaccioli—a rich and cheesy dish similar to lasagna and baked ziti—Mo Bros is inspired by the “humble wholesomeness” of the Italian-American kitchen, serving up comfort foods like the eponymous baked mostaccioli ($138), veal scaloppine al Marsala ($168), and homemade ricotta cannoli ($58).
Come by on weekends for their ever-popular brunches or swing by after work on Mondays and Tuesdays to take advantage of their happy hour deal, where you can enjoy two standard drinks and complimentary aperitivo snacks for just $98.
Mostaccioli Brothers, B/F & G/F, 16 Elgin Street, Soho, Central | (+852) 2525 5770
Rounding out the trio from Red Sauce is Fini’s (f.k.a. Linguini Fini), the group’s brightest and most casual eatery. Not only is Fini’s home to one of the best dining deals we have ever seen, but it’s also a great place for drinks, with both of its locations in Central and Wan Chai boasting semi-alfresco seating.
As per its more casual diner-inspired ambience (as opposed to Frank’s mid-century glamour and Posto’s Brooklyn cool), the menu features more pizzas and family-friendly bites—mac & cheese, skillet cookies, and the like—and the Wan Chai branch even offers free meals for children ordering off the kids’ menu from 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays. Do keep in mind that the menus differ between the two restaurants—thankfully, the signature Hong Kong-inspired typhoon shelter crab linguine ($179) is available at both locations.
As the lone Italian-American restaurant in a building (and district) otherwise dominated by Japanese eateries, Lo Spazio feels like something of a hidden gem. Outfitted in wooden fixtures and brick, “The Space” (as its name translates to) gives off an air of cosiness as soon as you step out of the lift. Although a little more formal than its sister restaurant, Mo Bros, Lo Spazio offers incredible value for money, with set lunches starting from just $88—which is a steal anywhere on Hong Kong Island, but especially somewhere like Causeway Bay.
If you’re in the mood for a meat-heavy meal, the slow-cooked suckling pig is particularly popular, while the 10-ounce bistecca-style ribeye ($198) is a favourite of ours—and of course, the spaghetti with meatballs ($118) is a slam dunk. Desserts and drinks are a strength of Lo Spazio’s, with regulars raving about the brownie sundae ($68) and milkshakes ($58), which include flavours like chocolate, cookies and cream, and banana.
Lo Spazio, 7/F, Henry House, 42 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2778 9877
Channelling the trattorias of Harlem, this newly opened restaurant has a warm, welcoming ambience accentuated by two colourful murals from Hong Kong-based street artist Axe Colours. Throw back some shucked seasonal jet-fresh oysters ($178) for starters before moving onto mains like the classic black truffle mezze maniche carbonara ($188) and the orecchiette broccolini with luganega ($178), and don’t forget to have a couple of drinks in the hidden lounge before you go!
Americano, Shop A, Kam Hei Mansion, 33 Staunton Street, Central | (+852) 2628 6186