A visit to the Italian coastline might be far-fetched right now, but at least you can journey there through your palate with the seaside-inspired dishes at Osteria Marzia. Situated on the ground floor of The Fleming hotel in Wanchai, the seafood-focused restaurant is part of Black Sheep Restaurants’ extensive portfolio, the brainchild of Chef Luca Marinelli.
Chef Marinelli hails from Varese, a small town near Milan in northern Italy. Following his training at the prestigious ALMA institute, the chef honed his skills at several Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe, including Savini, Quattro Mori and Cenador de Amós, and studied with Chef Mauro Uliassi at his eponymous three-starred restaurant before joining the chef in Hong Kong when he opened Domani at Pacific Place. He subsequently became the chef de cuisine at Isono at PMQ before joining Black Sheep.
Our tasting menu featured an array of both guest favourites and new, seasonal inspirations. The hamachi ($248), infused with the aromas of cherry tomato, olive and basil, makes for an inviting start to a meal.
A new dish, the cannolicchi ($268) features delicate razor clam dices tossed in salsa verde with capers, pairing well with a squeeze of burnt lemon.
Another newcomer, the seppia ($218), a dish made of finely shaved cuttlefish, had us fooled for rice vermicelli! The “noodles” are incredibly silky and tender thanks to the slow-cooking process, and the herb-infused Sicilian breadcrumbs, basil and pistachio add extra texture and flavour.
A classic on the menu, the crispy amadai ($468) has beautifully puffed-up scales that are delicately crunchy. The Japanese tilefish is poached in a light herbal broth for added flavour.
The frutti di mare ($298) is a hearty feast of juicy mussels, clams and squid in a light, umami-rich broth sweetened with cherry tomatoes and accented with fresh basil. The accompanying grilled bread slices are the perfect conduits for mopping up all the luscious juices.
Perfect for cooler days, the chitarra ($318) has comfort eating written all over it. Featuring a gooey, tomato-based sauce accented with sweet Boston lobster, this dish bursts with robust flavour, although it was perhaps a bit too generous with the salt on our visit.
The tiger prawn and stracciatella ravioli ($268) are dressed in a delicious crab broth, and the accompanying Swiss chard helps to soak up more of the sauce.
The highlight of the meal had to be the pescato del giorno (market price), a showpiece of a dish featuring fresh sea bass. Guests can choose from a selection of cooking methoods, ranging from grilled, to salt-baked, to acqua pazza (poached), to pan-fried in a sauce of brown butter and capers. We chose the salt-baked method, which arrived with much theatrics amidst a flurry of flames. The fish was succulent and tender, cooked simply in order to preserve its integrity.
With just a drizzle of olive oil, the flavours are humble yet delicious.
Side dishes of tender broccolini ($88) and spicy grilled baby corn ($88) accompanied the fish.
Because of time constraints, we were not able to sample the desserts, which we will save for our next visit!
It’s difficult to think of a better way to accentuate seafood-based cuisine than with the vibrant flavour profiles of coastal Italy. The simple yet well-executed dishes really allow the natural flavours of the seafood to shine. These robust dishes didn’t once make us think about missing any meat.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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