Charming Sai Ying Pun newcomer, LucAle, offers hearty familial comfort with its range of homemade pastas, Italian prime cuts and more…
District: Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
How much: Antipasti and Meat Platters range between $148 and $288; Pastas and Soups range between $138 and $198; Main Courses range between $178 and $988; and Desserts between $68 and $88
Must order: Prosciutto Di Parma and Burrata Sharing Platter, Chitarrino Al Tartufo Nero (Truffle Spaghetti), La Bistecca Di Fassona con Osso (OP Rib Steak)
The best for: Casual group dining
With its discreet back alley location (tucked behind Potato Head) and relaxed trattoria vibes, LucAle has all the makings of Hong Kong’s next hidden gem. Think Brickhouse, but with hearty Italian eats and a cosy familial charm that’ll make you want to hang out all evening long.
Though still only in its soft opening phase, the restaurant draws a lively weeknight crowd (complete with a queue when we visited last Thursday!). Perhaps this is not too surprising given its five-star pedigree – LucAle is, after all, the brainchild of two of the city’s most renowned Italian chefs: Alessandro Angelini (who most recently led the kitchen at Shangri-La’s Angelini) and Luca De Berardinis (of Conrad fame). Food-wise, that means guests are in for a real treat! Pasta, seafood, prime cuts and more are the order of the day, alongside a selection of organic biodynamic wines. Add in LucAle’s warm (read unpretentious) Italian hospitality and it’s the perfect recipe for a laid-back date night or casual catch ups with friends.
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To kickstart our feast, we tucked into a platter of premium salumi, or cured meats, accompanied by one of the best burratas in town ($288). Deliciously creamy, yet still light and airy, we loved how it contrasted with the salty-sweet taste of the Parma Ham and perfectly ripe Sicilian Pachino Tomatoes. The focus here is, of course, on the ingredients, with each component of the platter imported directly from the highest-quality artisanal producers. If you’d rather stick to a lighter evening meal, we recommend ordering a platter or two to share, accompanied by a drink (or three).
In true Italian style, we turned to pasta to warm up our stomachs before the main! All the pasta here is homemade and we were able to try a selection, including the Cappelletti Di Bolognese Bianca ($158), which came filled with White Bolognese Sauce and premium Parmigiano Reggiano DOP 24 Months. That being said, the only pasta dish that really stood out for us was the vegetarian-friendly Chitarrino Al Tartufo Nero ($198), otherwise known as LucAle’s must-try truffle spaghetti. Generously topped with shavings of Black Truffle and Pienza Pecorino Cheese, we can vouch that it tasted every bit as good as it looked.
When it comes to the mains, LucAle has chosen to champion underappreciated cuts of Italian meat (sorry vegetarians!), in addition to impressive seafood dishes. Here, a special shoutout has to go to the La Bistecca Di Fassona con Osso ($988 for 1kg), Piedmont’s renowned and sizeable OP rib steak, which went down a treat at our table. The meat was lusciously tender and juicy! Served family style with Creamed Spinach ($68), Roasted Vegetables ($68) and Gravy, think of this as the Italian equivalent of the beloved British Sunday roast. Though admittedly on the pricier side, it’s worth noting that this dish could easily feed a group of four. For those who prefer something less indulgent however, we can’t wait to come back and try the Slow Cooked Italian Suckling Pig Belly served with Asian Style Arrabbiata and Cauliflower Cream ($238), or the Grilled Smoked Scamorza Cheese with Eggplant Caponata ($178).
If, like us, you have a separate stomach for dessert, then we suggest sticking around for something sweet. We heard excellent things from our fellow diners about the Nutella Pie ($88, served with strawberry and lychee). We also liked how the decadent Creme Brûlée ($68) came with a side of Tarragon and Coffee Ice Cream – perfect for taking the edge off that rich custard.
Our verdict: Premium Italian cuisine served with a side of relaxed neighbourhood vibes, we loved LucAle as much for its casual laid-back ambience as we did for its hearty comfort eats. Whilst we won’t argue with the idea of LucAle as a cosy date night spot, we recommend coming in a group to really make the most of its comprehensive menu. Most, if not all, of the dishes can be shared, and this way you’ll get to try a bit of everything. Definitely one to keep in mind for any birthdays or occasion dining later on in the year!
LucAle, Shop A, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/lucalehk
All images courtesy of LucAle.