When one Italian restaurant closes, you can be assured that another will open in its place. When Dining Concepts relocated Cecconi’s from Elgin Street to Wyndham Street, they replaced it with Prego, which aims to serve home-style Italian cuisine “straight from Mamma’s kitchen.”
The space has been completely transformed from its Cecconi days and now has a much more relaxed and colourful look, with bright red walls and bare wooden tables. Eyes are naturally drawn to the semi-open kitchen at the back of the room, where Italian Chef Enrico prepares his mamma’s recipes.
We started the evening with tomato bruschetta and a plate of 24-month prosciutto di Parma. One of the things I love most about Italian cuisine is the simplicity of it and how fresh, simple ingredients can taste so good. The bread had a lovely char to it, whilst the tomatoes were beautifully fresh, juicy and sweet, drizzled with seriously good olive oil. The Parma ham was also excellent.
Next came the pomodoro farcito, a plump, juicy tomato stuffed with tuna, capers and olives that was absolutely faultless. The stuffing reminded me of the flavours of one of my favourite Italian dishes, vitello tonnato, and yet, paired with the freshness of the tomato, I think this may be my new favourite.
Aside from the cool wooden bowl in which it was served, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the Italian mussel soup, as I found the broth a little bland and the mussels themselves also a little lacking in flavour.
I’m not usually a fan of cream-based pasta dishes, yet the tagliolini dello chef was suberb. The homemade angel hair pasta was again lovely and fresh, whilst the sausage and basil cream sauce was surprisingly light and seriously delicious.
The polpettone – a kind of beef and pork meatloaf – was also lighter than expected yet wholesome and comforting. Again, this was a very simple dish served with creamy mashed potatoes and a choice of sauces. I suggest you try the truffle sauce…
The staff insisted that I must try the ‘Design your own pizza’ and there was no arm twisting involved! We chose to add aubergine, sausage and black olives, which were the ideal complement to the rich tomato sauce. The base was just the right thickness with a pleasant (though perhaps not intentional) char around the edges. By this stage I couldn’t manage more than a slice, but it made a good breakfast the following day!
I was intrigued by the faggotino, mainly because I liked the name, but also because the sound of a ‘hazelnut and Nutella folded tart’ was too good to resist. I enjoyed the contrasting gooey and crunchy textures but any more than one slice would have been too sweet to handle.
Service was efficient and friendly enough and prices are pretty standard for Soho – you can expect to pay around $300-400 per person without drinks. Although not all perfect, Prego offers unpretentious, hearty Italian fare that will definitely satisfy.
43 Elgin Street
Tel: +852 2651 5700