It’s summer again, and while Hong Kong jetsetters travel to gorgeous seaside destinations like the Amalfi Coast to escape the heat, the rest of us are stuck working in this concrete jungle we call home. Luckily for us, Sheung Wan has welcomed Trattoria del Pescatore, one of Milan’s finest seafood restaurants, founded by Giuliano Ardu in 1976. This new gem is perfect for those craving a taste of summer in Italy – and we all have Christopher Liu to thank.
A food lover and an avid traveller in Italy, Liu had been going to the original Trattoria del Pescatore in Milan for 20 years. He became good friends with the owners, the Ardu family, and ultimately decided to bring their sense of tradition and high standards of Italian cuisine to Hong Kong. “The culture and definition of a trattoria is that it gives people a sense of casualness and feeling at home,” says Liu. “I think Hong Kong lacks that, so I want recreate this dining culture by using traditional ‘mama’s recipes’ and the best ingredients, welcoming our guests into our ‘home’, and offering a friendly and familiar dining experience that doesn’t necessarily break your wallet.”
Trattoria del Pescatore in Hong Kong features traditional Sardinian recipes first introduced to Milan by Giuliano Ardu back in the day. One of the must-order items is the lobster Catalana for two (HK$800), a summery lobster salad that first made Trattoria del Pescatore famous in Milan. This traditional dish originated from Alghero, a coastal town in Sardinia. Ardu added his own touch with Sardinian tomatoes and slivers of red onion, making this salad as well-known as it is today. Even restaurants back in Alghero have adapted their lobster Catalana salads to the Ardu way! Pair this refreshing salad with a bottle of crisp white wine and it can be a delicious meal on its own.
For your starters, choose from a fantastic variety of fresh seafood items from the raw bar. How about some jet-fresh gambero rosso (market price) aka Sicilian red prawns to start? Or a plate of raw tuna belly on caramelised peppers (HK$250)? The fresh, raw Italian tuna marries the sweetness of the caramelised peppers very well. For a cooked appetiser, opt for the octopus and potato salad (HK$280), in which the tender, sliced octopus and the smoky potatoes make for absolute scrumptiousness. Next up is the pistachio gratin scallop (HK$125), an ingenious twist on the traditional gratin. And did I mention it’s also gluten-free and one of the most popular dishes at Trattoria del Pescatore? It’s definitely not to be missed, unless you’re allergic to scallops or nuts... or yumminess, for that matter!
Now onto the pasta courses. A must-order item is the spaghetti with clams and mullet roe (HK$208), a Sardinian dish first introduced by Ardu to Milan diners that has become a popular dish in many Italian restaurants around the world. Mullet roe, also known as bottarga, is a key ingredient in Sardinian cooking. Another favourite is the paccheri del pescatore (HK$250), an original dish created by Trattoria del Pescatore featuring grated bottarga on top of paccheri (a fatter and flatter cousin of rigatoni), mixed with bell peppers, swordfish, squid and a generous portion of the finest extra-virgin olive oil. Not a bottarga fan? Try some of the daily specials – if you’re lucky, the spaghetti with red prawns will be on the menu. For those that are well-organised, remember to pre-order the seafood stew – a delectable mixture of steamed lobsters, red prawns, mussels and clams in a rich seafood broth with homemade bread to soak up all that goodness. You can thank me later.
Those with a sweet tooth should try Trattoria del Pescatore’s rendition of the classic tiramisu, or the light and silky panna cotta topped with strawberry coulis and chocolate crumble (both HK$68). Not a dessert person? Diners will be delighted to find that a meal at Trattoria del Pescatore always ends with Sardinian pecorino cheese (shaved tableside) and a shot of iced mirto, a traditional myrtle-based Sardinian liquor – on our visit, it was on the house. Now if that’s not a good enough reason to visit, I don’t know what is! Just don’t forget to make reservations well in advance...
This feature originally appeared in July/August print issue of #legend.