I’m always looking to satisfy my pasta craving, so needless to say I love dining at Hong Kong’s Italian restaurants. However, with an abundance of Italian joints popping up every month, it’s always a struggle to find the perfect spot. Finding somewhere that serves delicious, honest Italian fare and has a great ambience is hard to come by – especially if you don’t want to break the bank. But after trying Pirata — a restaurant that places emphasis on fresh ingredients and unpretentious recipes, I think I’ve found my new go-to resto.
Pirata is located on the bustling Hennessey Road in Wan Chai. Despite the hectic surroundings, once you take the lift up to the 30th floor you’re instantly whisked away to a serene and modern setting. The restaurant covers two floors that are suited to two different vibes. The upper level features floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a sleek bar (specialising in Vermouth!) and a dining area that’s perfect for hosting private parties and after dinner drinks. The lower deck has a cosier vibe – ideal for casual lunches and more intimate get togethers.
I loved the industrial meets rustic interior of Pirata, which combined metalwork and cement walls with rustic wooden furniture and vintage chandeliers. The cool interior helped create a comfortable, yet sophisticated ambiance, perfect for enjoying the hearty Italian food to come…
Although we only tried the lunch menu, Pirata boasts a unique and impressive range of drinks. In fact, it’s the first specialist vermouth bar in Hong Kong! Not sure if you’ve ever tried vermouth (or if you even know what it is)? Let us fill you in. Vermouth is a type of fortified wine with added alcohol that’s been flavoured with various botanical herbs. If you’re unfamiliar with vermouth, the experts at Pirata will gladly handpick one for you and give you the full lowdown on this rarely found liquor!
Pirata serves up a great lunch menu that’s also great value for money (especially when you see the portion sizes), ranging from $168-248 depending on what main you choose. Start off with an antipasti buffet followed by a comforting Italian main, and end with a sweet and scrumptious dessert!
The antipasti buffet was plentiful and is almost enough for lunch on its own. There was a wide selection of delicious breads, bruschetta, fresh salads, Italian cold cuts, frittata, and cheese, all of which tasted fresh and wholesome.
After gorging on the antipasti buffet and a couple of slices of rustic bread (dipped in balsamic and olive oil of course), we tucked into our first main course. The M.M.M. (My Mama’s Meatballs) is a signature dish that you can try on the lunch menu for $168 (including the antipasti and a dessert). These meatballs are exactly the type of meatballs you would imagine an Italian grandma making at home… simple, honest and absolutely moreish. The classic blend of pork, beef and tomato sauce is sure to satisfy your stomach!
Available on the $198 lunch menu was the Eggplant Parmigiana. The eggplant was deep-fried and then oven baked with a tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and parmigiano. I normally don’t like eggplant, but I was surprised at how tasty it was! The edges of the eggplant were crispy whilst the inside remained soft, pairing perfectly with the tomato and melted cheese.
An Italian staple has got to be pasta, so we decided to try the Tagliatelle with Sicilian Red Prawns. The pasta is all freshly made in the kitchen and you can taste this freshness as soon as you bite into it – it’s light but still has some bite, and the zucchinis and tomatoes are an excellent healthy accompaniment along with the juicy bites of prawn.
Ending the meal with some sweets never hurt, and Pirata certainly doesn’t fall short with their selection of desserts. From their lunch menu we tried the Café Affogato, Panna Cotta, and Crushed Chocolate and Dry Nuts Semifredo. All three were absolutely delicious and not overly sweet. My favourite was the Panna Cotta; it was so smooth and melted in the mouth, while the raspberry coulis added a hint of acidity for balance.
The Café Affogato was perfect if you’re looking for an afternoon caffeine fix, and the indulgent Semifredo not only tasted delicious with all the different texture, but also looked beautiful.
Italian food can either be overdone or underdone – too much refinement or too sloppy and rustic. But Pirata manages to balance the authenticity of comforting dishes with a sophisticated environment, delivering the heart of Italian food by using fresh ingredients and simple, honest recipes. The team prides themselves on cooking for their guests like their families, and that rings true with the chef using his own family recipes! The service is friendly and the food is reasonably priced (pasta ranges from $85-280) – especially for the authentic experience that goes along with it. Whether you’re looking for some hearty Italian dishes or wanting to sip on some vermouth in a comfortable and contemporary setting, Pirata should be your new go-to spot in the city. Buon appetito!
Pirata, 29-30/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 2887 0270, www.pirata.hk