UPDATE: La Baita is now closed.
Since moving to Wanchai at the beginning of 2010, I’ve been so excited to try out what another area has to offer in terms of bars and restaurants. I definitely haven’t been disappointed – apart from the tightly packed goodness that lies on Ship Street, Star Street and thereabouts, there are plenty of other great finds dotted around.
La Baita opened on Queen’s Road East recently, and I couldn’t wait to try out this new place as it’s even closer to my apartment than our usual Wanchai haunts – I’m ultimately lazy, so always prefer to dine right on my doorstep if possible! I called to reserve on Saturday night and was told that I wouldn’t be able to get a table until 9pm which seemed like a good sign that the restaurant was busy. We arrived right on the dot of nine with empty stomachs and were hugely relieved when we only had to wait a couple of minutes for our table.
La Baita’s concept is Northern Itality Alpine cuisine, so I was imagining the decor would be a little more rustic and cosy – the area that the restaurant occupies is totally huge, so I guess it would be hard to make feel intimate, and instead they’ve gone for more of a nod towards alpine, with leather banquettes and animal skin rugs in the bar area, and exposed brick walls and twinkling candles in the main dining area. The bar area in front of the restaurant is very large, and was totally empty when we arrived, which was a shame as I’d imagine even if you weren’t eating at La Baita, it would be a nice place to start off your evening with a glass of wine. In contrast, the restaurant itself was packed, full of large groups in particular.
The menu is organized in traditional Italian fashion with Antipasti, Primi (pastas) and Secondi (meat and fish dishes). You can have the Primi either as a starter size, or as a main course. We ordered the Pommodoro Tomatoes with Mozzarella and Basil and Gnocchi with Cheese and Cherry Tomato Sauce to start, and then as we couldn’t resist it, we both wanted the Veal Milanese as our Secondi.
The starters were nothing out-of-the ordinary, although the gnocchi was light and the portion size correct to not destroy one’s appetite for the main course. The Veal Milanese however was totally delicious – juicy and tasty and served with a generous little bowl of richly flavoured dipping sauce and a light salad on top. We ate and ate our way through, but couldn’t manage to finish the enormous portion.
Service was charming, if a little frazzled (there were signs that this might have been their first really busy Saturday night) and the manager/owner was friendly and attentive, recommending wine and checking to make sure we were enjoying our meal.
In conclusion, La Baita is a great addition to the neighbourhood and especially perfect for a casual, fun evening out with a group of friends when wine, good food and good company are what is important. The price is not cheap (starters are priced around $100 and main courses around $200), but the quality is excellent and you feel that you are eating fresh and carefully prepared dishes. There are an awful lot of mediocre Italians in Hong Kong, and this one is definitely a cut above. I’ll be back to check out the Set Lunch which is available from 12pm to 3pm Monday to Friday.
248 Queen’s Road East
Wanchai, 2572 8872