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Pirata will always hold a special place in my heart. The Italian restaurant was where I celebrated my one-year anniversary of moving to Hong Kong. My friend and I sat by the kitchen and enjoyed dish after dish of fresh, hearty, comforting foods, and we were even given shots to toast the occasion. That’s what Pirata represents to me: excellent food and warm, family-like service. I’ve been back several times since, including for their great-value brunch, but what brought me back this last time?
Well, I wanted to check out their refreshed à-la-carte menu for summer. I was curious to see how Chef Emanuele Canuto and team would freshen up the comfort-food menu.
Decor-wise, Pirata looks exactly the same as it did on my first visit. For those who come for the first time, the 30th floor (where we sat) looks like an apothecary, with the vermouth bar taking centre stage with its wood, iron and leather accents. A comfortable and stylish if perhaps unusual setting for Italian food.
We arrived for Sunday dinner famished and ready to dig into the new dishes. For the small plates, we tried the beef tartare, Sicilian croquettes and truffle Caesar salad.
The beef tartare ($140) is always good at Pirata. The texture of the beef felt more roughly chopped than I remember, adding to the homey quality. The pickles were especially punchy (delicious!), though the ‘nduja oil was surprisingly muted.
The Carnaroli rice-stuffed Sicilian croquettes ($90) are wonderful – like pizza, but with crispness and rice instead of dough. Quite rich, especially on a summer menu, but worth the indulgence.
The Truffle caesar salad ($130) is a solid option if you’re looking for some greens, but it’s not a must-order. On our visit, the lettuce was a bit soggy and the taste quite mild.
We were warned that the grand Wagyu beef cheek pappardelle ($320) would be plenty as a main for two. I was sceptical – how large could a pasta dish be? I can confirm that this dish is indeed massive and would be plenty for two hungry people. The beef was beautiful and fork-tender. Perhaps the sauce could use a little something to brighten it up and signal summer, but it’s a nice dish nonetheless.
Whenever I eat at Pirata, I usually get the semifreddo ($70) for dessert. It comes in a cute pan, frozen and drizzled with chocolate. This time, the semifreddo was dubbed allo zabaione, came in a dish and was soft like a pudding. Zabaione, if you’re having it for the first time like I was, is an Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine. The soft, chunky texture took a little getting used to, but it ended up being quite addictive.
Pirata is well known for its homestyle Italian cuisine, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the refreshed à-la-carte menu for summer is on the heavier side. If you’re looking for a “cheat day” meal (though I don’t really like that concept – shall we say a celebratory meal instead?), make a booking at Pirata and don’t forget to order the Sicilian croquettes. I hope these stay on the menu long after summer is over!
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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