I don’t think there will ever come a time when there is not a new Italian restaurant opening somewhere in town; everyone loves Italian food so restaurateurs can feel safe in the knowledge that they will be making people happy. It is, however, still vital to offer something different from all the many Italian restaurants around town, and that is exactly what NOM has done.
NOM, which stands for Not Only Meatballs, takes over the space on Lower Elgin Street that was briefly Enomod. It is the brainchild of former Goccia head chef Fabrizio Napolitano and restaurateur Ricky Cheuk, who together wanted to open a fun, casual Italian restaurant that stood out from the rest.
The aged wood, black and white chequered floor and funky wallpaper gives NOM an inviting, casual look that has a modern charm, whilst still suggesting hints of its Italian origins. The space is divided into the bar area, the lounge area and the dining room, giving guests the option of enjoying just a glass of wine and some snacks, or a hearty meal.
At NOM, the humble meatball, which is loved by all yet rarely allowed its chance to shine, is given celebrity status. There are nine different meatballs listed on the menu, including a vegetarian option, each of which is experimental and playful. There is a focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients; all meats come from small family-run farms in New Zealand and Australia that all have an ethical approach to farming, whilst all the seafood is sustainable and mostly wild, imported from Italy, New Zealand, Finland, Spain and Australia.
I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the char-grilled octopus meatballs, as it’s not a dish one frequently comes across. Served with avocado puree and an heirloom tomato salad, the meatballs were lovely and fresh with the perfect texture. They did, however, need just a little more char to give them just a little bit more excitement, as the flavour was a little on the bland side.
The lamb meatballs, served in a rich herby tomato and olive sauce with crumbled goat’s cheese, were divine. The flavour of the lamb itself was delicious and it was almost impossible not to mop up all the remaining sauce with the soft, crusty bread.
Our favourite were definitely the beef meatballs. Keeping an element of tradition, these were served with a classic Neapolitan ragout. Beneath the meatballs, however, was a disc of paccheri pasta filled with ricotta cheese; one bite into it resulted in an explosion of cheese that was unexpected yet amazing.
As the name suggests, the menu isn’t limited to just meatballs. There’s also a list of main dishes, pizzas, cold cuts and cheeses. Thinking we should probably get some kind of vegetable into our meal, we tried the roasted pumpkin. I am a big fan of pumpkin, and this one, sprinkled with spices, drizzled with fresh yoghurt and garlic confit, did not disappoint. The only thing I didn’t understand was the Montgomery cheddar, as, for me, it didn’t quite match.
Pizzas at NOM are all handmade using high quality Italian flour from the Marche region and tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella from Campania. The pizza diavola, topped with spicy salami, was possibly one of the best pizzas I’ve tried in Hong Kong. It was neither too thick, nor paper thin, and had a comforting handmade quality to it that satisfied every craving.
To finish on a sweet note, we were recommended to try the lemon tart. Again, this had a rustic, handmade quality and a lovely flavour that was not as sweet as I had feared. A slight sprinkling of coffee and a scoop of cardamom gelato added an intensity that was not unwelcome and brought all the flavours together.
We were very impressed by the service at NOM; the restaurant’s Kiwi manager was exceptional, offering recommendations where necessary and adding her own bubbly personality to the fun, casual vibe of the restaurant. The total food bill (not including the very nice bottle and a bit of Langhe Nebbiolo) came to about $700 for two. NOM is definitely not just another Italian restaurant; it’s a fun breath of fresh air with an inviting neighbourhood feel that will definitely entice me back again and again.
1-5 Elgin Street
Tel: +852 2540 7988