Header image courtesy of Associazione Chianti (via Facebook)
Originally published by Inés Fung. Last updated by Annette Chan.
When we think about Italian food, our thoughts are never far from pizza and pasta—though there’s much, much more to this universally beloved cuisine than just its famous carb-based dishes. From the glittering coastline to the idyllic mountains, there’s so much to explore from the country that’s practically synonymous with “love for food,” and luckily for us, Hong Kong is home to a wealth of authentic takes on Italian cuisine. (There’s also a small but vibrant Italian-American dining scene, but that’s another topic for another day!) Next time you get a hankering for a taste of Italy, head to these Italian restaurants in Hong Kong that will have you kissing your fingers all night long.
In contrast to Locanda dell’Angelo—the intimate Happy Valley restaurant founded by Tosca’s culinary director Angelo Agliano—dining at the resident Italian restaurant of the glamorous Ritz-Carlton is an unabashedly lavish experience, with an opulent opera-inspired design comprising grand chandeliers, gleaming marble features, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Victoria Harbour.
Inspired by his Sicilian heritage, Agliano presents seasonal, produce-driven menus shot through with Mediterranean flair. While many flock to the Ritz for its glittering night views, there is something apt about savouring the bright, bold Sicilian flavours during a sunny lunch among the clouds. Currently, the multi-course lunch (starting from $638) features fresh flavours like Mediterranean octopus with cannellini bean velouté & chorizo, as well as the crowd-favourite mezzi paccheri with Sicilian red prawns & pesto. Don’t leave without trying the tiramisù, a largely traditional take on the dessert crowned with shaved chocolate and served alongside coffee granita.
Tosca Di Angelo, Level 102, International Commerce Centre (ICC), 1 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2263 2270
Despite its stature in Italian cuisine, Piedmont—the northern region famed for its wine, cheese, truffles, chocolate, and meat—has just one culinary representative in Hong Kong. Part-owned by Piedmontese celebrity chef Marco Sacco, this refined Causeway Bay eatery is a love letter to the rich, alpine cuisine, which pays homage to its culinary traditions while utilising modern techniques and presentation.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the carbonara “au koque” ($348)—a neat coil of tagliolini topped with a razor-thin crisp of cured ham, which is then carefully encircled with a puddle of butter-yellow gin- and raspberry-infused egg yolk sauce. While carbonara is famously a Roman dish, this “carbonara rivisitata“ (revisited carbonara) has been a signature of Sacco’s for years.
Order it as part of the lunchtime pausa pranzo (starting from $280), or try any of the other curated tasting menus, such as the summer menu (starting from $1,280) which includes seasonal delights like the Italian eel with Carnaroli foam and homemade Piedmont agnolotti pasta in veal reduction sauce. Given Piedmont’s reputation as a wine-producing region, wine lovers who order the tasting menus would be remiss if they did not take advantage of the wine pairing experience.
Castellana, 10/F, Cubus, Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 3188 5028
Founded by chef Jack Lau—previously of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana and Ciak—this Causeway Bay eatery is best known for its handmade pasta, which is made fresh every day using Italian ingredients. The signature tagliolini with Carabineros prawns ($380) is a must-try for seafood lovers, with a rich sauce made from the prawn essence and scallops. Can’t get enough of that springy, perfectly al dente pasta? Pick up some of the handmade tagliolini, fettuccine, and tagliatelle from Involtini’s online store and try recreating their dishes at home.
Involtini, 11/F, The L Square, 459–461 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2658 2128
Hidden down a lane in Happy Valley, this 28-seater is a chance to experience chef-owner Angelo Agliano’s food in a more intimate setting. For those who want a try a little bit of everything, the build-your-own tasting menu (starting from $1,080) is a great option to explore multiple plates from the à la carte menu, such as the signature Hokkaido sea urchin risotto ($368) and “full-blood” Wagyu sirloin ($780), which you can watch the chefs prepare from the open kitchen. Meanwhile, the weekend brunch ($538 per person) is a great way to try their regularly changing seasonal dishes, with summery plates like shrimp filo pastry with perilla, pan-fried scallop with saffron risotto, and pan-fried pomfret with white zucchini & black garlic sauce featuring on the current menu.
Locanda dell’Angelo, 12 Yuen Yuen Street, Happy Valley | (+852) 3709 2788
Originally located at Fenwick Pier in northern Wan Chai, this beloved Italian fine-dining eatery is the crowning jewel in the hospitality group of the same name. Chef-owner Giandomenico Caprioli—known to all as Gianni—has parlayed that first restaurant into a trio of eateries and a chain of artisanal gourmet stores, all in pursuit of providing the authentic Italian food experience to Hong Kong consumers.
Currently, Giando occupies an elegant ground-floor space in the Starstreet Precinct with ample inside and outside seating. Its weekend brunch (starting from $458 per person) is a veritable feast, with sharing starters like beef tartare, tuna carpaccio, and burrata, as well as hearty mains such as Sardinian pasta fregola with saffron prawns & crab meat, grilled beef tenderloin with burrata sauce, and wild mushroom pappardelle.
Giando, Shop 1, Starcrest Block 1, 9 Star Street, Admiralty | (+852) 2511 8912
Unlike the coastal, Mediterranean-influenced Osteria Marzia, Black Sheep Restaurant’s other Italian eatery in Wan Chai, Associazione Chianti, is a “soulful Tuscan trattoria.” In the spirit of elevated “cucina povera” (peasant cooking), the restaurant’s menu comprises rustic dishes made with simple ingredients—vegetables, beans, nuts, and cheese—as well as Florentine steaks.
Crack into the grilled country bread with roasted pecorino & anchovies ($138) and share a plate of the hand-rolled pici with Tuscan kale, pistachio & pecorino ($208) before tucking into the hearty steaks. Though the Black Angus beef is sourced from Idaho, it’s dry-aged, seasoned, and broiled how it would be in il bel paese—try the show-stopping bistecca alla Fiorentina ($1,198) to dine in “true Florentine fashion.”
Associazione Chianti, Shop 2, Po Chi Court, 15 Ship Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 3619 3360
As per its tagline, this long-standing Wan Chai restaurant (and the namesake for the Pirata restaurant group!) is all about “honest Italian” fare—fresh ingredients prepared using simple, well-executed recipes. As such, the wide-ranging menu comprises many familiar dishes, like vitello tonnato ($100), linguini vongole ($210), and the famous cold cuts and cheese board (starting from $160).
Not sure where to start? Like sister restaurant Pici, Pirata also offers a chef’s tasting menu ($490 per person), which allows diners to bypass the decision-making process entirely—simply sit back and enjoy as a selection of the restaurant’s “greatest hits” arrive magically at the table.
Pirata, 29/F & 30/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2887 0270
While Lupa—the restaurant that previously occupied Spiga’s digs—dealt in Italian-American fare, its successor is more concerned with “Italian-Italian” cuisine, as Tuscan celebrity chef Enrico Bartolini’s only restaurant outside Italy.
Stunning Joyce Wang-designed interiors inspired by 1950s Italy set the scene for a meal to remember, with off-beat touches like a bar overlaid with leather insoles and framed boxes of vintage circus paraphernalia and wooden shoe trees. The menu is chock-a-block with delicious plates, from squid ink risotto with pesto and raw langoustine ($320) to grilled mackerel with bagna càuda ($268), a Piedmontese garlic- and anchovy-based dip, and more. Can’t decide what to get? Go for the chef’s tasting menu ($688) or the lunch buffet (starting from $238), where you can get your fill of salads and desserts, and add on various pastas, pizzas, and main courses for an extra fee.
Spiga, 3/F, LHT Tower, 31 Queens Road Central, Central | (+852) 2871 0055
8½ Otto e Mezzo-Bombana’s reputation precedes them: Not only do they have a whopping three Michelin stars (the first and only Italian restaurant outside of Italy with this achievement), they’re also consistently featured on various lists and rankings celebrating the best restaurants in Hong Kong and Asia.
Chef Umberto Bombana is a true ambassador of his home country, naming the restaurant after a Federico Fellini film (you may have heard of his most famous work, La Dolce Vita) as well as bringing vibrant Italian fine dining to our city in the form of dishes like warm blue lobster with broccoli emulsion and the sea urchin-topped cavatelli with shellfish ragout—both of which are on the degustation 8½ menu ($1,880 per person).
Paired with a cheese-ageing room, an endless wine list, and impeccable service, 8½ Otto e Mezzo-Bombana is the star of the show in Hong Kong. Definitely worth the splurge.
8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road, Central | (+852) 2537 8859
Octavium is 8½ Otto e Mezzo-Bombana’s more laid-back and adventurous sibling. Described as chef Umberto Bombana’s creative laboratory, the menu at Octavium is full of dishes made with more low-key ingredients or experimental techniques. Like its sister restaurant, the menu is fresh and seasonal, but past favourites include their rich tagliolini with roasted Te Mana lamb and elegant take on the simple spaghetti aglio e olio. Octavium may be more intimate and chilled, but they’ve still bagged a Michelin star, so you know you’re in for a treat here.
Octavium, 8/F, One Chinachem Central, 22 Des Voeux Road Central, Central | (+852) 2111 9395
Tucked away in the quiet Fenwick Pier is Giá Trattoria Italiana, a family-style, farm-to-table Italian restaurant that serves food true to chef and founder Gianni Caprioli’s roots. Chef Caprioli’s insistence on using sustainable and non-GMO ingredients that are mainly sourced from Italy in his kitchen ensures that you are getting a genuine taste of the pan-regional dishes Giá Trattoria Italiana offers.
We especially love the linguine with whole chopped lobster & fresh tomato ($588) which is large enough to, and the bianche (non-tomato-based pizzas) that are hard to come across at other establishments. Giá Trattoria Italiana is spacious and welcoming, making it a great place for a cheery family dinner.
Giá Trattoria Italiana, 1/F, Fleet Arcade, Fenwick Pier, 1 Lung King Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2511 8081
Note: Giá Trattoria will operate at its Fenwick Pier location until 6 February 2022. A new location is yet to be announced.
Pici is almost always packed to the rafters at all of their locations, and for good reason: their menu features affordable and unpretentious takes on the ultimate Italian comfort food—homemade pasta. The rotational lunch menu is a steal, consisting of a starter, main, and dessert for just $158. We absolutely can't get enough of the burrata, the sizzling individual trays of lasagna, and perfect pots of tiramisu. Pici is the place to go for a satisfying carb-load, and we’ve never left without having to loosen our belts.
208 Duecento Otto is a stalwart on Hollywood Road, having served up casual Italian comfort to the neighbourhood for years. Their wood-fired Napoletana pizzas are a must-order. Prepared to the specifications of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, which stipulates that only buffalo mozzarella imported from Campania can be used and the pizzas must be baked in a custom-designed pizza oven shipped straight from Naples, they are some of the most authentic pies around.
We would recommend coming for brunch, particularly on a day you really need a pick-me-up. You can get your choice of main course plus unlimited helpings of antipasti, seafood, salad, cheese, and dessert from the bar for just $368. Tack on the two-hour free-flow package for the “hair of the dog” recovery method—they have Aperol Spritzes on tap, wink wink.
208 Duecento Otto, 208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2549 0208
The breadsticks here are so delicious that they named the restaurant after them. Following a renovation a few years ago, this longstanding favourite is classier than ever with the same sweeping views of our iconic harbour. The signature Grissini breadsticks are baked fresh in-house daily and served alongside meals with fragrant extra-virgin olive oil and house-blended balsamic vinegar. The Italian country classics on offer at Grissini are even more impressive than the scenery outside, particularly the soft and succulent ravioli capresi that is made following Chef Marcello Scognamiglio’s family recipe, and steamed instead of boiled.
The dishes carry a distinctly Mediterranean flavour, as Chef Marcello is from the southern Campania region, so seafood is another must-try here. Be sure to make room for dessert though, as the gelato is homemade and the tiramisu is served to you from a bowl. For the vino lovers, go for an Italian wine pairing from the two-storey wine cellar with floor-to-ceiling vinothéque.
Grissini, 2/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2584 7722
Sabatini is a true Italian institution. It’s been around since our parents first started dating, and will probably be around when our kids start dating. When it comes to their recipe for longevity, the proof is in the pudding: the quality of the food has stayed consistently high, the rustic furnishings (modelled after the original Sabatini in Rome) are timeless, and the live band that roams from table to table is essential dinnertime entertainment.
Sabatini, 3/F, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2733 2000