This new kid on the block is Italian with an uptown vibe; white table cloths with comfortable neutral furnishings and the sounds of soulful Italian crooner Mario Biondi warming up the room. With displays of antipasti and Italian products lining the walls of the restaurant, it certainly achieves its intended “diner in a boutique” atmosphere.
Unfortunately Spuntini’s raison d’être is tainted by the fact that it’s a big gimmick, and one that’s not particularly tasty. The restaurant and shop feature Italian chef Moreno Cedroni’s stylish food product line from Senigallia, Italy- both on the shelves and at the tables. Not only are the ingredients of the food you eat available for purchase, you can also order yourself a dine-in meal à la Moreno.
Spuntini celebrates that Chef Moreno is the Michelin star chef behind the menu, failing to mention that he is not in the kitchen and that the Michelin rating is given to restaurants, not chefs. It’s in fact Moreno’s restaurant in Italy that bears the two stars for “excellent cooking that’s worth the detour,” according to the Michelin Guide.
As for the gimmick, it’s cute but a little too light to carry the entire concept of a restaurant, even if they are the exclusive importers from Italy. The reheated monkfish liver ($135 with pasta) was flavourful enough, but missing the mark in terms of texture. Rubbery and dull in colour (though we don’t judge by looks alone) it tasted flat, without any mushy richness. And unfortunately some obstacles can never be overcome; even with high tech vacuum seal techniques, Moreno’s creations arrive with the flaws of processed food – stale and lacking in freshness.
What Spuntini does have to offer are some fantastic carbs. So good in fact, they didn’t even make us feel guilty. The sliced bread was toasted on the right side of golden, whether it was regular or tomato bread it was warm and crispy yet soft on the inside. The pasta was consistently al dente between our two pasta dishes. Firm and chewy to the bite, it’s easily the most memorable part of the meal. We couldn’t resist its calling even after it went cold (and yes, even then it was good).
The eggplant parmesan ($68) was small and drenched in too much oil for our taste, and the cheese forgettable without the come-eat-me-now aroma that melted cheese should elicit.
The dessert of the day was sold out by the time we got to the end of our meal, but the wine jelly, which you can of course buy to take home ($48, $68), was splendidly full-bodied, with an impressive punch and thick flavour. The yogurt fruit salad that accompanied it was tainted with the grapes’ flavour, though. We finished off with a cup of Spuntini’s perfect cappuccino, because from the espresso to the foam it got all Italian all right ($36).
On the whole, the food wasn’t amazing, but the pasta and cappuccino are well worth a visit. Bourree Lam
G/F, 4 St Francis St, Wanchai. 2528 1060. Daily noon-11pm. Meal for two: around $400.
|Venue name:||Spuntini (Closed)|
G/F, 4 St Francis St, Wanchai