Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hong Kong - Bella Vita by Francesco

Finally got round to trying the third restaurant in 1957 & Co.'s portfolio.  This time, Italian.  After Sushi Ta-ke and Mango Tree, it just seemed appropriate to taste the final segment of the trio.  If only to just be able to say "I've tried them all.".

We started the night on the wrong note.  My point, and I do have one, is that if you are the dude showing people to their tables, you are supposed to listen for the name of the party, not throw out names at random from the reservations book and hope you hit the right one.  The game starts to get weary after 3 wrong tries and you're not even close, especially when the party is trying their best to tell you what the name of their party is.  

After that hiccup, we did make it to our table and were promptly served a cold basket of bread.  I get that they eat cold bread in Europe, but this is Hong Kong, and being spoilt by warm bread everywhere, we wanted it warmed especially on a chilly night. 

Table Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Bread came back warmed but didn't do justice to the condiments.  Bread was too doughy and sliced a little too thin to generate any texture or taste.  Table oil and vinegar were quite good though, as were the truffle butter and tomato paste.

Grilled Octopus with Black Pepper and Green Apple Salad
This was a refreshing entry after the not-so-pleasant start to the night.  Very well executed.  Octopus just barely cooked with a crusty, slightly charred exterior for a touch of smokiness but very tender inside.  The green apples were a nice complement of tartness and crunchiness.  

Orecchiette pasta with Sicilian red shrimp and date tomatoes
Pasta was al dente and well coated with the robust sauce of shrimps and tomatoes.  Only complaint, this was a tad salty and I had to order a Tua Rita riesling to neutralise the palate.

My “Cacciucco”, spicy Tuscan seafood soup with lobster, scallop, mussels, clams, calamari and garlic bruschetta
This was quite enjoyable, a relatively light main course and provides warmth to the soul on a cold night.  Seafood was fresh and cooked just right.  But the salt factor was even higher than the shrimp pasta, making it a little uncomfortable as the dish went on.  A little bit of a struggle towards the end.  Shame.

Apple tarte tatin and vanilla gelato
Dessert was quite ordinary.  Pastry was very flaky and airy, if you like that sort.  I prefer a little more substance so a few more layers would have worked better for me.  Otherwise, a decent finish.

Overall, it's got location going for it.  There aren't many decent Italian places in the vicinity although I have heard mixed reviews about Da Domenico, which is just across the road.  Bella Vita is a very comfy and quiet place to enjoy dinner, a big plus if the chairman of the board is a leading architect, I suppose.  A clever way to bring the corporates back even if the food isn't outstanding.  If only the people working there were happier and just smiled a little more..

11/F, Cubus
1 Hoi Ping Road
Causeway Bay
Tel: +852-2577 0699

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