A seafood lovers delight
District: Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Cuisine: Italian seafood
How much: Dishes range from $178 to $288, with sharing menus priced between $428 and $598
The Best For: A lively group dinner with friends
Must Order: Spaghetti Ricci with A.O.P sea urchin
In line with Black Sheep Restaurant Group’s fifth birthday, the foodie juggernauts have treated us to (yet another) brand new restaurant. Osteria Marzia can be found on the ground floor of the soon-to-be-reopened (and star ferry themed!) Fleming Hotel, in Wan Chai. Inspired by the founder’s summer road trips in coastal Italy, the menu is concise, serving up dishes from the Southern Coast of Italy, from Sicily to Sardinia, Positano, Amalfi and more…
In keeping with the seaside feel, the restaurants design is cool, contemporary and welcoming, yet distinctly nautical. From the bar area feeling reminiscent of the hull of a grand ship, and the deep teal tiles lining the walls, through to the waiters stripped shirts and navy blazers, the design works hard to make you feel far from the busy Wan Chai streets outside.
Our tasting menu was compiled of a few keys dishes from the main menu, featuring the likes of oysters, sea urchin, lobster and branzino (European bass). Kicking off the meal we enjoyed beautifully charred bread, simply served alongside butter and anchovies. Setting us up for the array of seafood to come, I dove into the salty goodness, which matched perfectly with the starter of Hamachi with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Basil ($178). The delicate raw fish, paired with the slight tang of the olives was delicious, and I (shamelessly) used the bread to mop up the remainder of the flavoursome oil. Next up was a Half Dozen Oysters ($238), though understandably not for everyone’s tastes, if you’re a fan, you’ll love these, served with a Lambrusco mignonette sauce, evoking a true taste of the sea.
Then it was time for the pastas. We enjoyed a selection from the menu, delving into Chitarra with Boston Lobster ($248), Bucatini Con Sarde (with sardines, fennel and saffron), and Spaghetti Ricci, with A.O.P. sea urchin. All three were delicious with al dente pasta, and though I enjoyed the not-too-rich and subtly sweet lobster, the sea urchin was (surprisingly!) my favourite of the three. Not usually one to go for uni, I loved the delightful saltiness and freshness of the dish, which successfully transported us straight to southern Italy.
The main event of our meal was the Branzino Acqua Pazza ($598), served with clams, olives and cherry tomatoes. Made for sharing, the fish was presented to our table whole on a platter scattered with clams, and served alongside a simple green salad. The fish was soft and perfectly cooked, with the sweet clams and cherry tomatoes.
After our fresh and light meal, we were more than ready for the desserts. Ranging from Espresso Gelato ($88) and Yoghurt Pannacotta ($118), to Cherry Granita ($78) and Gianduja ($118) – a deliciously rich chocolate cake made with hazelnuts – those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed come the end of the meal!
A far cry from the richness of the dishes of the Italian food some may be used to, Osteria Merzia succeeds in delivering a true taste of coastal Italy, and seafood lovers are sure to be in heaven here. Only open since Monday, the restaurant already has a buzzing atmosphere (helped along by the eclectic soundtrack), making it the perfect place for a fun and lively group dinner complete with sharing plates (and plenty of Italian wine). The service is ever-friendly, if a little slow at times, though I think this is probably just teething problems, which I’m sure will soon be ironed out to come up to the standards of other Black Sheep restaurants.