Pirata’s one of those restaurants that’s been around for awhile but people still talk about and frequent often. I went for the first time last year, and it went down as one of my favourite dining experiences in Hong Kong. The atmosphere was nice, the food was great and the service was excellent. My friend and I sat by the kitchen and had a direct view of the dishes being made. Though we had plenty of food – having decided to go big and try the set dinner menu – we couldn’t help but ooh and ahh at the other dishes being whipped up. Over the course of the night, Borja, Pirata’s manager, kindly brought over an extra pasta dish and dessert for us to try, as well as two glasses of limoncello. I’d never had such friendly service in this city – and little did he know it was all happening on my one-year anniversary of arriving in Hong Kong.
All this to say, I think what Pirata (and all Pirata Group’s restaurants) does so well is ensure its guests have a wonderful time in their establishment. You always leave feeling like it was time and money well spent.
So after my memorable dinner experience, I couldn’t wait to go back to try Pirata’s weekend brunch ($298/person).
My friend and I were seated on the 30th floor, so our antipasti buffet was set up along the vermuteria (vermouth bar); there’s also a larger area on the 29th floor. The selection was big enough for us and included cold roast beef, smoked salmon, Parma ham, a variety of salads and a section of cheeses. Nothing in the buffet was jaw-dropping, but everything was fresh and satisfying. Our favourite was the thick, fatty smoked salmon slices.
An Italian comfort food meal isn’t complete without meatballs, and we were delighted when the smells of Parmesan, tomato sauce, meat and basil wafted over. The beef and pork meatballs were nice and fat; there were large chunks of bread crumbs inside that added to the ‘homemade’ feeling.
We’d tried the asparagus flan our first time at Pirata and loved it. It tasted just as good the second time around – the flan was moist and eggy, and the Parmesan fondue sauce was absolutely moreish.
The Italian classic vitello tonatto was a new dish for us, and for those who’ve previously had Pirata’s brunch, it replaces the fried mozzarella sandwich that used to be on the menu. For those who haven’t had this before, thin slices of cooked veal form a base layer that is then covered with a thick layer of tuna mayonnaise sprinkled with caper berries. This was an interesting though slightly heavy dish, and we found the meat a bit dry.
There were two of us, so we could have chosen two regular-sized mains or one large main to share. We were trying to be healthier because it’s nearly summer, so we opted for the fish of the day (+$48/person). I was a bit hesitant at first because I often find dealing with fish bones to be more trouble than it’s worth. But when our grilled sea bream arrived, I was excited for two reasons: one, because it looked and smelled fantastic, and two, because our lovely server, Oscar, said he’d be right back with the fish after he had deboned it for us! The flesh was fresh and light, enhanced with white wine and olive oil. The other ingredients of charred cherry tomatoes, olives, rosemary and chunky salt flakes added depth.
Our meal ended with the chef’s selection of desserts, which on our day was panna cotta and semifreddo. The panna cotta was so smooth and creamy and was served with a sweet (not tart) raspberry sauce. We were almost too full to try the semifreddo, but we did manage a few bites of the delicious frozen cream, hazelnut and melted chocolate concoction.
In a dining industry as competitive as Hong Kong’s, Pirata’s proving it has what it takes to last with its unpretentious yet stylish food and atmosphere. It’s just as good for a casual family lunch (it’s very child friendly) as it is for a group birthday party. Don’t forget to pop up to the rooftop for a lovely view of Wanchai.
29/F and 30/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, 2887 0270