Time Out says
Forty-four Hennessey Road has recently swapped one Italian restaurant for another, with the second branch of La Piazzetta replacing the short lived Pomodoro. Judging by the redesign of the interior, it looks like the address is the only thing that has remained the same. The inside has been completely refurbished and has a Tuscan farmhouse feel with wood beams on the ceiling and seating on two levels. It’s quaint but does suffer from the unsightly traffic on Hennessey Road.
It took us nearly a half hour to order our meal as we poured over the telephone book-sized menu. It featured starters, regional starters, pastas, regional pastas, mains, and regional mains. That’s not even mentioning the salads, bruschettas, or huge list of pizzas. We joked that there was no way they could possibly have all the ingredients listed on hand, but indeed they did.
After much consideration we opted to share two appetisers and one pasta along with a couple of mains. First to arrive was the Maiale Tonnato ($99). This is a dish hailing from Sicily and consists of thin slices of pork loin covered in tuna sauce. A classic summer dish, it is traditionally served with veal, but the pork was lean, chilled and a nice substitute. It played well off of the tuna sauce, which is essentially a creamy mayonnaise-based sauce flavored with tuna fish. Served with capers and greens it was nice and light way to start.
Also light was the Carpaccio de Pesce Spada Affumicado ($135). This was salty smoked swordfish cut thinly over rocket and topped with fennel. Anointed as a Sicilian dish, this also worked well. The fish was fresh and the portion generous, while the fennel fell a little flat and didn’t have that typical anise flavour, although the rocket had a lot of punch.
The execution of the pasta course didn’t do justice to the menu description. Listed as Tortellini al Burro e Tartufo ($179), it’s tortellini stuffed with spinach and ricotta and served in a white truffle butter sauce. While the butter sauce was decadent and white truffles were shaved generously, the tortellini themselves were gummy and cooked inconsistently, some hot in the middle and some not cooked all the way through. The filling got lost in the technique of whoever was manning the pasta station.
The main courses were a mixed bag. The Melanzane alla Parmegannio ($138), or eggplant lasagna from the Emilia region, would make any Italian mother proud. The tomato sauce had a nice sweetness and the eggplant was firm and not a gloopy mess. Ample cheese was present without dominating the dish. The Calloppine alla Valdostana ($179) was another story. It was a thin piece of steak covered in fontina cheese and Parma ham. The steak was gummy and if it had any flavour it was totally masked by the salt of the cheese and ham. It just didn’t come together. While enjoyable for a couple of bites, in retrospect it we should have gone for something simpler and that would have let the flavours shine through.
We ended the evening with the Panettone Al Forno ($38), a sweetened cake containing raisins, nuts, and candied fruit. A bit dry, it could have used more of the accompanying chocolate sauce.
All in all La Piazzetta is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and should be commended for using extremely fresh tasting ingredients. The problem is, with a menu this big there’s bound to be a few clunkers. Once the staff is familiar with the menu, recommendations should be easier to come by but for the time being ordering simpler might be better. Rex Gregg
44 Hennessey Rd, Wan Chai, 2865 0681. Daily noon- 11pm. Meal for two: around $650