To me, Italian fare literally sounds wonderful at any time of day, in any city around the world! So when we were invited to check out VaBene, a chic Italian eatery with a menu that offers all the quintessential Italian fixins’, we were couldn’t say no.
Read more: 8 New Brunches to try in Hong Kong
Tucked away off Queen’s Road West, VaBene is hidden away from the main hustle and bustle of Sheung Wan and SoHo – it’s a quiet spot that’s definitely away from the crowds. With modern decor and “che fare” (literally translates to ‘what to do’) written on one of the grey walls, VaBene has a more relaxed vibe than other Gaia Group restaurants. With a newly released, special family-style brunch available that incorporates all the values of Italian feasting, we couldn’t wait to try it out!
The fully stocked bar can whip up an array of classic cocktails and showcases a selection of wine and bubbles. Every night they serve “aperitivo” from 6-8pm, selected bevvies for just $40 a pop, along with some light bites. However, on Sunday Prosecco is the drink of choice, at bottomless glasses for just $98 per person, we simply couldn’t resist! And they made sure to keep our glasses full…
Ok, I need to talk about the bread for a second because it seriously deserves a shout out. Baked fresh, the warm bread with a crispy crust and a soft inside was the perfect way to begin a good Italian meal. Kudos to the best bread I’ve had in awhile!
Apart from the bread, the new family-style brunch consists of eight small plates, including fried calamari, octopus white bean salad, beef carpaccio, caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, the staple of Margherita pizza, smoked salmon and tasty grilled eggplant. All eight appetisers are delivered to the table to be shared amongst a group.
Of all the appetisers, we most enjoyed the white bean, celery and octopus salad – the octopus was cooked perfectly and was on the meatier side rather than tough and rubbery. The contrast of the soft bean, crunch of the celery and meaty octopus was definitely a winner for me! The pizza was also delicious, one of the most authentic Neapolitan style I’ve tasted in HK, cooked in their very own wood fired oven. It left me feeling nostalgic and wanting more.
For the mains we tried the wild mushroom risotto with burrata cheese and the roasted chicken with rosemary and fennel. We especially loved the grilled chicken, the tender meat was extremely juicy and the skin crisp and flavorful. It was served on top of a few roasted potatoes cooked to perfection, a naturally great combo. It was a perfect choice following the carb heavy appetisers!
After our mains we sipped our Prosecco and let the food settle. After about 20 minutes we received our dessert, a tray of sweet biscuits, chocolate covered fruit and marshmallow alongside a bowl of sabayon (dipping concoction made up of egg whites, sweet wine and sugar) . The sabayon was frothy and the sugar cookies tasted like Christmas. Alongside a delicious espresso, it was the ideal ending to our Italian feast.
Italian food is not just for eating; it’s for sharing and relishing every bit of the experience with family and friends, from the preparation stage down to the very last bite. Sunday family-style feasting is a ritual, right alongside Hong Kong brunching… Eating pizza, sipping Prosecco and nibbling sweet biscuits and coffee was a great way to end the weekend. I’ll definitely be back to VaBene to sample more of their mouthwatering menu – and obviously for the bread!
VaBene, 189 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/vabenehongkong