New bar: RISI e BISI

With all the buzz around up-and-coming hoods in Tai Ping Shan, PoHo and Sai Ying Pun, it’s been easy to forget that Gough Street and Kau U Fong is where it all got started, and that Noho (read: North of Hollywood Road), the original anti-Soho, was once the place to be.

Enter RISI e BISI. The new Venetian-inspired bàcaro bar has just opened its doors on Kau U Fong, and is hoping to inject the hood with a much-needed shot of life after dark.

RISI e BISI dining area
Who knew feature walls were still a thing? Either way, this one will help you practice your Italian.

The buzz: The latest venture by the Piccolo Group (Piccolo Pizzeria and Bar, K-Town’s Bistro du Vin, Kau U Fong’s Le Port Parfumé), RISI e BISI has been conceived as a traditional bàcaro — a friendly and buzzy neighbourhood hangout with quality drinks, quality bites and quality tunes.

RISI e BISI bar
The bar at RISI e BISI features an impressive selection from boutique distilleries and brew houses.

The vibe: There’s an overwhelmingly casual and unpretentious vibe here, and the interior pays homage to traditional Italian neighbourhood bàcaro bars — think exposed brick juxtaposed with distressed metal, plush leather furnishing and a very cool feature wall featuring vintage Italian newspapers.

RISI e BISI - Grilled Watermelon Steak
Grilled watermelon, a Mediterranean fave, gets a look in on the innovative menu at RISI e BISI.

The food: Traditional Italian dishes are plated with contemporary twist here, and are made for sharing. Signatures include the carbonara spaghetti with 63 degree egg, spicy lamb and pistachio meatballs, and clams aglio olio served in bamboo, and of course the risi e bisi (that’s rice and peas to you and me) served with braised pork.

RISI e BISI - Old Man Negroni
It’s not an Italian bar without a Negroni, which gets an update at RISI e BISI.

The drinks: The carefully curated drinks menu features selections from more unusual, boutique sources — rare Japanese whiskies from closed distilleries and one-off casks share the spotlight with boutique bottled beers from Japan and the US, while wines (served by the carafe) represent a selection from across the whole Mediterranean region.

Cocktail wise, the list is “urban-inspired” and based on homemade infusions and spices. The frequently changing selection includes a Bloody Mary made with mozzarella-infused vodka, and a dangerously fun affogato fizz.

RISI e BISI - Affogato Fizz
Is it an espresso martini, is it a gin fizz? Nope, it’s the affogato fizz, one of the the creative concoctions on the menu at RISI e BISI.

What else: The chef will also be preparing dishes off-the-cuff during service each night. They’ll be limited though, so get there early.

RISI e BISI, 12 Kau U Fong, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2824 3009, www.risiebisi.com; open 5pm until late on Tuesdays to Saturdays and 3pm to 10pm on Sundays. 

Greek-Cypriot by way of Melbourne, Nik is a lover of sneakers, country and western music, Jeff Probst, oversized scarves and three-quarter lattes. He occasionally tweets, badly, @nik_iforos, and lives in a state of constant FOMO on Instagram @nik.iforos.