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Known for its printed blue walls and authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, 208 Duecento Otto has been a mainstay in Hong Kong’s fickle dining scene for 10 years now. The first restaurant opened by JIA Group is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a brand-new menu and a bit of a refurbishment, replacing the high communal tables on the ground floor with decidedly more comfortable low tables with marble finishings. The bar has also been given a revamp – renamed The House of Aperitivo and specialising in vermouth.
Bar/Floor Manager Matteo Stefani
New Bar/Floor Manager Matteo Stefani offers guests an interactive experience in which they can learn about Italian drinking culture, while the team create bespoke or classic cocktails tailored to guests’ preferences.
General Manager Giammarco Sai
Another new face is General Manager Giammarco Sai, an incredibly personable and entertaining addition to the team who offers a warm dose of authentic Italian hospitality.
The kitchen is led by Chef Zeno Bevilacqua, who takes inspiration from homestyle Italian cooking, creating traditional recipes using the finest ingredients. While 208 is famous for its pizza, we were treated to everything but pizza on our visit, giving us a taste of all the other dishes the buzzing spot has to offer.
Beginning our tasting journey downstairs at The House of Aperitivo, we sampled the signature cocktail, Otto Punch ($128), a refreshing blend of gin, green tea and lime. The drink menu offers an extensive list of Milano-Torino – a traditional Italian cocktail made with vermouth and Campari – as well as many fine wines and spirits. They’ve also got a decent daily happy hour from 3–7pm, with drinks starting at just $58.
After our aperitivo hour, we moved upstairs to the dining room to begin our meal. While still vibrant, the upstairs area has a different atmosphere, one focused on sit-down dining in a more intimate space.
Our meal began with the carrozza ($198), and when it hit the table, we were in awe of its size and deep-fried exterior. We were even more surprised when we cut it in half and it revealed oozing mozzarella cheese with anchovies, offering an impressive cheese pull. Essentially a deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich, this indulgent dish is served with truffle and cauliflower butter, which works well to add moisture to the less cheesy ends.
The Italian red prawn ($258) offers a bright plate of pink prawns and fresh red tomatoes surrounded by burrata and topped with carasau bread. The elements of the dish work best when eaten all together, with the sweetness of the prawns and tomato blending beautifully with the subtle, velvety burrata.
Being fans of 208’s pasta menu, we were eager to sample the new creations. Starting with the small beef meatball ($218), we enjoyed every chew of the bouncy, al-dente spaghetti as it soaked up the slow-cooked (around 24 hours) bolognese as well as the little meatballs that just melt in the mouth.
The black truffle ravioli ($188) is showered with very finely grated black truffle and filled with mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses. This dish is incredibly decadent owing to the richness of the truffle coupled with the creamy filling, yet it was completely irresistible (and quite possibly our favourite dish of the evening).
The 300g Mayura rib-eye ($368) with Italian tomato gratin was served medium rare with a perfect pink middle. The meat was juicy yet slightly fatty and complemented by a moreish gravy that enhanced the umami-packed flavour of the steak.
Before being cut open, the next main course looked simply like pizza dough wrapped around a pot. We were very excited for the big reveal, which turned out to be black cod ($288) baked in a pizza crust. Served with tomato, a secret herb sauce, mashed potato and capers, the pizza crust can be used to mop up all that deliciousness. The fish was cooked to perfection and flavoured beautifully with the tart tomato and silky herb sauce.
Moving on to the sweets, we started with the ginger soufflé ($88), which was light and fluffy with a very strong ginger taste. The ginger was slightly too strong for us, but those who are fans of the spice will absolutely love this dessert. We must commend the soufflé for its structure, which didn’t deflate – even when drizzled with the delectable warm vanilla English cream.
It wouldn’t be an Italian meal without tiramisu! The 208 tiramisu ($88) comes with a bit of a twist. We could not get enough of this dense, whipped dessert, which was enhanced with pistachio cream and a pleasant surprise of chocolate popping candy at the bottom.
After the meal, we were treated to a selection of drinks from what Giammarco calls “the trolley of heaven” – better known as the drinks trolley. This trolley offers a range of grappa, digestifs and sweet wines. We had a glass of Amaro Montenegro ($50), which has a refreshing herbal finish.
208 remains one of Hong Kong’s finest Italian restaurants, with every carefully-thought-out dish offering a comforting, authentic and homestyle taste of Italy. We were wowed by the team’s hospitality and truly felt as though we were part of the family. If wholesome, high-quality, no-fuss Italian food is what you seek, look no further than this wonderful spot.
208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2549 0208, book online
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