Despite the fact that we are surrounded by hundreds (if not thousands) of excellent Asian restaurants serving everything from casual Hong Kong breakfast buns and Beijing style street crepes to gourmet Iberico chashu pork and sushi omakase flown in from Japan, sometimes we crave dishes that remind us of home.
In Boston we got used to having really, really excellent Italian food. Homemade pasta was pretty common on many menus, and we were able to take advantage of the excellent seafood in Boston (hello lobster!) and enjoy them prepared Italian style. We had no idea what the Italian restaurants in Hong Kong would be like.
After recently moving to Wan Chai, we have been thrilled to discover there are some excellent Italian restaurants. One of our recent favorite go-to places has become Pirata. Perched high up on the 30th floor in Wan Chai, Pirata serves excellent fresh pasta dishes, a fun assortment of authentic appetizers, and great “secondi” dishes together with great views of the bustling city.
Charcuterie/Cold Meat Selection
Parma Ham (aged 24 months), D.O.P. coppa di Parma
The menu has a nice selection of a la carte dishes. You can get a charcuterie board and enjoy a selection of their cured meats, or start with one of their many appetizers. Their pasta dishes are big enough to serve as entrees, but it’s also fun to switch it up and order a secondi (main course) as well. One fun way to try some of their “greatest hits” is to order “My Grandma’s Menu”. This is a family-style tasting that costs 450 HKD per person (everyone at the table must participate) and takes you through a tour of some of their best and most popular dishes.
Piatti Piccoli (Small Dishes)
Octopus Salad ($180 HKD). Tender octopus pieces are tossed together with sliced cherry tomatoes, Taggiasca olives, and cubed potatoes in a lemon oil and parsley dressing. I especially enjoy the flavorful kick that the olives provide, and the overall salad is really good.
I loved arancini when I was in Boston (Basta Pasta makes an excellent one!), and I was thrilled when I discovered Pirata’s Arancini Bucket ($75 HKD), which uses Acquerello rice, saffron, and D.O.P. Fotina cheese. Their version is very good and a bit more “fancy” than the ones I’ve had in Boston. I just wish it came with a bit more tomato sauce (I am a sauce person and I always find that it’s not quite enough for all those arancini!).
We were introduced to Vitello Tonnato as part of our “My Grandma’s Menu” tasting. This cold Piemontese dish (ohh, how I miss Piedmont!) consists of veal slices served in a tuna mayonnaise sauce and topped with Sicilian caper berries.
The veal was tender, the flavors were authentic, and overall it was quite tasty!
Pasta is where Pirata shines. Every single one of their pastas is handmade in-house. The quality is excellent – both in the texture of the pasta as well as the flavors of the sauces. Tagliatelle with Black Truffle ($230 HKD) is simple but fantastic, consisting of al dente ribbons tossed in a butter shallot sauce and topped with generous shavings of black truffles.
One of my favorite pasta dishes (and one which I’ve ordered multiple times) is the Orecchiette with Sausage and n’duja. I love the texture of the super thick and chewy orecchiette. The Italian sausage, cherry tomato, and spicy n’duja come together nicely to form a creamy tomato sauce with a kick. It’s awesome.
The Butcher’s Cut (500g) was the final course in our “My Grandma’s Menu” tasting. The flank steak tagliata (means “sliced steak” in Italian) was grilled perfectly (look at the color!) and served with arugula (they call it rocket) and cherry tomatoes.
Another time I shared the Fresh Fish of the Day (it was sea bass that day) with two other women and it was the perfect way to end the meal. You choose between two preparations: baked in sea salt or prepared Mediterranean style (baked over sliced potatoes, Taggiasca olives, cherry tomatoes, and rosemary with white wine and extra virgin olive oil). When we asked the server which ones was better, he recommended Mediterranean.
It was a great choice! I really liked the bold flavors that the Mediterranean ingredients added, which complemented the fish quite nicely. The potatoes soaked up a lot of the flavors from everything on the plate. All in all, it was a great dish.
In short, we really like this place. We haven’t met a bad dish yet, and we’ve sampled a lot of the menu already. The menu doesn’t change too often (at least compared to our neighborhood restaurants in Boston), so we have to make sure we don’t order the same things too often. Thankfully, they do rotate in various specials and seasonal menu items to vary things up a bit.
There is a “Secret Wine List” if you are open to considering some rarer or higher priced wines to pair with your meal. We’ve enjoyed some fun bottles off of that list.
Pirata Hong Kong
30F, 235-239 Hennessy Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong