As I may have mentioned a number of times before, I could never get bored of Italian food. So when Il Milione in Hutchison House closed down and was replaced by yet another Italian restaurant, Osteria Felice, I was ready and waiting to try it.
That ground floor space in Hutchison House always seems to me a bit of a tricky location for a restaurant, since it’s a bit hidden away and only really accessible to those who work in the immediate vicinity. It’s a huge space with no windows and definitely wouldn’t be somewhere you’d stumble upon by chance; you’d have to know it was there in order to go there. That said, Osteria Felice has made great use of the space. There’s a stunning bar stacked high with any and every spirit you can imagine as you enter. Here, they offer happy hour every day between 5pm to 8pm, which includes complimentary snacks.
As well as a wide selection of classic and modern cocktails, you also have the option of creating your own bespoke Martini. First, choose from a selection of premium vodkas and gins, then decide how dry you’d like it, then choose from a selection of bitters, then add a finishing touch and finally a garnish. You get your own little clipboard and pen to design your ideal Martini.
The restaurant itself, although large, doesn’t feel overwhelmingly so, and neither does it seem pretentious, as its predecessor did. Instead, to remind people that eating out should be a happy occasion shared with friends (‘felice’ means happy in Italian), the walls feature photographs of people laughing and smiling, a sweet touch that makes the space seem much more casual and inviting than before.
The seasonal menu, designed by Epicurean Group’s executive chef, Brian Moore, features traditional cooking styles from the different regions in Italy. We began with possibly the best roast bone marrow I have ever tasted. They cook the bone marrow to medium-rare, to ensure it stays buttery and smooth. Spread onto the accompanying grilled bread, this was quite honestly heavenly.
I was less impressed by the vitello tonnato, which is usually one of my favourite Italian dishes. The meat was a little on the chewy side, and I felt it needed a caper or two to bring out the flavour of the sauce. The little gem salad, which was basically a Niçoise salad, was also rather disappointing.
The Tuscan cold cuts, however, from an indigenous breed of Tuscan pigs called Cinta Senese, were delicious. These pigs are apparently leaner than others, and offer a much more intense flavour. My favourite was the culatello.
We also sampled a selection of mozzarella, which included classic mozarrella, fior di latte and burrata, each one incredibly light, creamy and divine.
I was a little confused, initially, by the roast chicken and Parmesan sandwich that came served in chicken broth, yet I soon realised that this was in fact the perfect comfort food for that particularly miserable winter’s evening.
Whether it’s due to its tongue-like appearance or unusual flavour I’m not entirely certain, but sea urchin is something I usually go out of my way to avoid. That said, however, I did very much enjoy the squid ink linguine with Hokkaido sea urchin. I didn’t eat much of the urchin itself, but the pasta was beautifully al dente and carried a lovely flavour.
The garganelli pasta with pork and beef ragu was also absolutely stunning and, again, the perfect comfort food for a dreary and drizzly evening.
The last of the savoury dishes was an incredible veal Milanese that was so big it could have fed the whole restaurant! We only managed one slice each, which meant I enjoyed a feast of leftovers the following evening. The veal was wonderfully tender and flavoursome, served with fresh rocket and juicy cherry tomatoes to balance the richness.
For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to not only cut out alcohol for the month of January, but sugar too! I therefore ate vicariously through my guinea pig friend who told me the tiramisu was not the best she’d ever tasted, yet the chocolate fondant served with mozzarella gelato definitely was.
Prices at Osteria Felice are much more affordable than those of its predecessor; you could probably expect to pay around $500 per person for a filling meal, without drinks. Service was excellent with staff able to give detailed descriptions not only of the dishes themselves, but of the cooking methods and reason behind these. Although Osteria Felice may involve a little forethought to get to, it’ll be well worth it once you’re there.
Shop 16-21, G/F, Hutchison House
10 Harcourt Road
Tel: +852 2516 6166