Opera House (CLOSED)
Time Out says
*This restaurant is currently closed for renovation
Hong Kong’s opera houses are few and far between. However, a new one has just set up shop among the strip of furniture stores in Queen’s Road East. But there’s no singing and dramatics in here. This is a new Italian bistro and restaurant, which sports authentic dishes as well as tiled floors and a huge bar area reminiscent of modern trattorias in the European country. And what’s even more impressive is that Opera House’s fine dining area upstairs has ample room and plenty of seats – unusual for this area in Wan Chai.
The menu at Opera House is also unusual. Gone are the starters and mains – they’re all mixed up into the sections of ‘chef’s specials’, ‘bistro items’ and ‘pizzas’. But when you read the details, you discern what’s what fairly easily. So we kick off with the beef carpaccio ($128) and the marinated salmon ($208). The pounded raw beef in the carpaccio has a fine consistency that combines well with the arugula and parmesan – but there just isn’t enough to this dish for it to shine. The salmon, however, fares better as the honey mustard dressing brings out the sweetness of the bell peppers and freshens up the ensemble.
The pasta special of the day is seafood pasta ($178) on our visit – and it’s a simple affair with spaghetti topped with mussels and clams in an anchovy sauce. It’s rustic, charming and tasty – a refreshing change to the usual white wine reduction method. We’re pleasantly surprised when the Contandina pizza ($148), topped with aubergine, zucchini, bell peppers, spinach and buffalo cheese arrives, as unlike many cosmopolitan pizzas which are thin as cardboard, the crust at Opera House is thick and gradually thins out in the middle, with a perfectly burnt ‘tiger stripe pattern’ on the underside. In fact, this pie transports us to the Tuscan countryside – particularly apt as we’re told everything that goes into the pizzas, from the flour to (believe it or not!) the water it’s mixed with, is imported from Italy. Okay – this isn’t a new concept for a Hong Kong Italian joint but it adds to the cuisine’s rustic charm.
The food is certainly authentic at Opera House (so called, they say, because it’s simply a ‘good name for a restaurant’!) but it’s not doing anything new or creative. However, with such pleasant and spacious environs, we’ll probably return for the ambience and that molto bella pizza. Lisa Cam
Opera House 109-111 Queen’s Rd E, Wan Chai, 2520 6677; operahouse.com.hk. Dinner for two: $650.