Gianni’s Trattoria Italiana is hidden away on the first floor of a building with a small, residential looking entrance, and would be close to impossible to find unless you kept your eyes peeled for their sign. The restaurant overlooks the hustle and bustle of Elgin Street and has a rustic, traditional Italian interior design with faux brick walls, wooden chairs and white tablecloths – the kind of vibe you would want for a relaxing date night.
We start off with a Prosecco from Valdobbiadene, Italy, which is very good. The restaurant has a great selection of proseccos, wines and liquors from the different wine making regions of Italy. The prosecco is served with a couple of classic Italian starters, including tomato and olive oil on baguette bread and bread sticks wrapped in prosciutto. These were simple and tasty, but not so memorable.
The waiter also proudly presented us with homemade anchovies and shallots in olive oil. The shallots were a good mix of sweet and salty, perfect amuse bouches, but the anchovies were incredibly salty and definitely not for everyone!
Next, we were served an octopus stew, which was probably the highlight of the entire meal. The octopus was perfectly cooked and impossibly tender, and the sweet sauce that accompanied it complemented it perfectly. The octopus at Gianni’s is cooked for two hours the “special Italian way”, which is what makes it melt in your mouth.
As if all of that wasn’t enough for starters, we were also served a monster portion of Pugliese Scamorza cheese and fresh tomatoes as well as a pot of grilled eggplant in melted cheese.
You haven’t had the whole Gianni’s experience unless you’ve tried their homemade pasta. We were lucky enough to be served two of Gianni’s specialties: homemade fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and homemade tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes and octopus. The pastas are just al dente and the octopus is once again… fantastic. Let’s just say both are recommended!
Although there are endless options for good, hearty Italian meals in Soho, Gianni’s certainly does a good job. They hold back on embellishments and let the fresh ingredients work their own magic.
Gianni’s Trattoria Italiana, 51 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2525 1838, www.giannitrattoria.com