Chef Vinny Lauria, leading the food programme at Red Sauce Hospitality – owners of Fini’s and Frank’s Italian American Social Club – is Hong Kong’s go-to chef for Italian-American cooking
Frank’s Italian American Social Club is celebrating a half-decade on the Soho block, delivering a food programme unique to restaurants in Hong Kong – the melding of flavours from Italy and New York.
Known as “red sauce” cuisine by the patrons and forebears of Italian-American eateries, many immigrants to and emigrants from New York are familiar with the carb-heavy, meaty, and piquant flavours of the fare.
When chef Vinny Lauria joined the team in birthing Red Sauce Hospitality, the restaurant group responsible for Fini’s, Frank’s, and the late, great Posto Pubblico, injecting Italian-American food into Hong Kong’s globalised food scene was central to the group’s mission.
“Fifteen years ago, I moved from New York City to Hong Kong, having cooked all over Southeast Asia since. It was natural to cook using ingredients that were from here. When something is grown so close to us, fed nutrients from the soil and sun until it is ripe and ready to pick, landing on your dinner table shortly thereafter, it really is going to taste the best. This is actually the true spirit of Italian cuisine,” says chef Vinny.
When Frank’s Italian American underwent a renovation in the summer of 2021, following its opening in 2018, a more refined and fresh Italian-American menu was in store. What came too was chef Vinny’s project to create a unique omakase menu, Italian-American style.
“Omakase literally translates to ‘I will leave it up to you’ in Japanese. The idea of offering this omakase menu spawned from a series of omakase dinners and lunches that I prepared for some of Hong Kong and China’s wealthiest families and their friends – Pony Ma, Jack Ma, and the like. They told me their favourite foods and their aversions and said, ‘I will leave it up to you’. From there, I created a 12-course tasting menu for them to enjoy.”
“Each time, I communicate with the guest to find out as much information as I can and create a menu using the best ingredients and cook them in an Italian-American way. It doesn’t mean that you will be in for a Japanese-Italian experience; it merely borrows the style and idea of omakase from Japanese cuisine.”
Vinny explains that his omakase menu can range from using “simple and humble” ingredients to “the most extravagant” – priced from HKD700 per person all the way up to HKD2,500 – starting at six courses and reaching up to 15.
A sample omakase menu that Vinny has prepared in the past featured Italian kimchi and crispy pomelo skin, caviar-cuttlefish “tagliatelle”, hairy crab and red prawn ravioli, Wah Kee Farm suckling pig porchetta di testa, “Autumn in Yunnan” risotto, fennel and Cara Cara granita, and white chocolate tiramisu.
The omakase menu, Vinny states, is “a menu that is tailored to you specifically. It makes for a great and really fun and immersive evening with a group of friends. You have the opportunity to do something that is specifically for that person, taking into consideration all the things that they love.”
Intrigue your friends, family, and out-of-town guests with a custom-designed Italian-American omakase menu by contacting Vinny Lauria at 9097 9730