Chocolate is one of the most important things in my life. Take away my chocolate and you’ll need to replace it with something equally as amazing or we may no longer be friends. Sadly, we recently said goodbye to chocoholic’s paradise VERO Lounge in Fenwick Pier, yet what made this heartbreak easier was knowing that it would be replaced by Giando, an Italian restaurant set up by former Isola chef Gianni Caprioli.
The space has always been large, but after being redesigned, it now looks even larger, with a gorgeous view of the harbour and what will (hopefully soon) be a lovely garden overlooking said harbour – just be patient with the construction works for now.
Gianni has decorated the space in his own way, keeping it very minimalist, while including little trinkets from his former home in Italy. The focus is primarily on the menu, with delicious ingredients freshly imported from Italy and around the world.
Our meal began with an amuse bouche of smoked mozzarella with bottarga and Italian lemon. The flavours were perfectly balanced, with the sharp lemon serving to cut through the rich smoky flavour of the cheese and salty bottarga, leaving us and our taste buds excited about what was to come.
A mixed seafood carpaccio with fish, prawns and scallops was incredible. The melt-in-the-mouth texture of the wonderfully fresh seafood contrasted perfectly with the crunchy leaves, croutons, cucumber and slivers of radish, as well as the juicy cherry tomatoes and chunks of fresh orange – it was possibly one of the best carpaccios I have ever had.
Little bite-sized morsels of calamari and zucchini fritti came next. These were beautifully crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, just as they should be.
Unable to decide what to have next, we asked Gianni to prepare us a trio of pasta to share, so we were served individual portions of Risotto ai funghi, Rigatoni all’Amatriciana and Ravioli di spinaci e ricotta. The firm texture of the risotto was spot on and the unexpected addition of lentils worked well. The ravioli, made with fresh homemade pasta was delicate and light, yet my absolute favourite was the Amatriciana, with wonderfully al dente pasta and a rich, smoky tomato sauce.
A pepper-crusted pork chop served on a bed of finely chopped cabbage and pak choy was delightful; the pork was amazingly tender and flavoursome, made the more so by the rich, sweet winey glaze.
For dessert, I’m pretty sure we tried everything on the menu: crème brûlée, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, chocolate fondant and sort of frozen nougat. They were each deliciously moreish, yet the two that really stood out for me were the gorgeously creamy crème brûlée and decadently sinful chocolate fondant. If you can’t manage all five desserts, please at least try these two.
But it didn’t end there. Gianni insisted we try some of his homemade ice cream, and brought us little bowls of almond and milk ice cream, sprinkled with crunchy almonds and drizzled with a dash of Frangelico; it was heavenly.
Prices at Giando for an average meal will range from as little as $300 to $1000, depending on if you’re just there for a casual pizza or a full on feast. Service is excellent and you can tell that the waiters have received proper training. One thing I noticed is that the staff at Giando wait until all diners have finished eating before clearing the plates, something that they fail to do in even some of Hong Kong’s best restaurants. The wait between dishes may be fairly slow, but not to the point of frustration, and if you’re in good company, admiring the beautiful view, then who cares?!
1/F Fenwick Pier
1 Lung King Street
Tel: +852 2511 8912