The weather is (finally) getting cooler, and we’re ready to ditch summer diets in favour of holiday feasting. This fall/winter season, it’s all about catching up with old friends and family over the best foods that warm you up from the inside out — think steaming hotpots, claypot rice dishes and of course, hearty and delicious pastas. With ingredients such as pumpkin, wild mushrooms and butternut squash celebrating the best of fall produce, these seasonal pastas are just waiting for you to grab a fork and tuck in.
The dish: Fresh pappardelle with Wagyu beef ragout and white porcini mushrooms, HK$288
Combine steak and carbs for the ultimate comfort-food meal at Porterhouse, with premium steaks complemented by an assortment of fresh seafood towers, grilled fish, burgers and spit-roasted chicken. The small but sweet selection of pastas is particularly worth trying, including the pappardelle: supple, flat sheets of golden pasta blanketed in a warming Wagyu beef ragu, with white porcini mushrooms and fresh herbs adding a lighter note. Earthy and packed full of flavour, the dish sings of autumn while bringing relief to the steak-heavy spread at Porterhouse.
Porterhouse, 7/F, California Tower, 30-36 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 6366
The dish: Vinny’s Skillet Lasagna, HK$179
Everyone knows the best part of a lasagna is the crispy, crunchy fried bits that get stuck to the bottom of the pan, followed by the gooey strands of cheese that get draped across the plate as you lift a slice from pan to plate. Chef Vinny at Linguini Fini doubles down on these delicious bits with his skillet version (think crispy burnt cheese all the way around), lifted by bright green pesto and a bright and zingy tomato sauce. Finished with homemade mozzarella, herbed ricotta, roasted garlic and Vinny’s nose-to-tail “bolo” (a mix of pork testa, veal and oxtail ragu), this lasagna is one that might just be better than mom’s.
Linguini Fini, 49 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2387 6338
The dish: Spaghetti and meatballs with tomato and basil, HK$178
Nothing says cold-weather comfort food like a good ol’ fashioned plate of spaghetti and meatballs. While Bistecca may be known for their premium, juicy steaks, there are plenty of other hidden gems to seek out on the menu — including this mouthwatering plate of the classic combo. A tangle of tomato sauce-slicked strands anchored by three juicy and succulent meatballs, Bistecca’s spaghetti is well worth sacrificing your calorie intake for the day. It’s available for lunch only, so a walk around the block is recommended before heading back to the office grind.
Bistecca, 17/F, Chinachem Hollywood Centre, 1-13 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
208 Duecento Otto
The dish: Ravioli di zucca e pecorino (butternut pumpkin ravioli), HK$178
A longtime 208 Duecento Otto hit, these bright yellow pockets of sunshine (aka butternut squash ravioli) are always a comforting dish to fall back to when the cold weather hits, stuffed with sweet squash and flecked with thyme and ground pepper. The butternut squash gets roasted down with nutmeg and chestnut for an earthy aroma, before being piped into the thin, handmade ravioli. The dish is finished in a simple burnt-butter sauce and a light dusting of pecorino cheese for a salty bite.
208 Duecento Otto, G/F, 208 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2549 0208
The dish: Liquid parmesan ravioloni, HK$120
If you serve just one thing, you better do it well — which is exactly what chef Andrea Viglione is proving at his pasta bar, Pici. From the bowl-shaped orecchiette in a spicy ‘nduja sauce to long tagliatelle strands shot through with white truffle paste and black truffle shavings, Pici is an absolute dream for pasta lovers (they’re currently gearing up for their soon-to-open second location in Central). While there’s not a dish to dislike on the menu, our favourite has to be the liquid parmesan raviolini — large puffy pasta pillows that break open to reveal a creamy, cheesy liquid filling, hidden under a snowfall of shaved parmesan. A comforting beef ragu and woody sage round out this all-star dish.
Pici, G/F, 16 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2755 5523
The dish: Gnocchi mushrooms, HK$150
Operetta took over the old Dan Ryan’s space in Pacific Place earlier this year, and though many mourned the closing of their favourite childhood spot, the Italian newcomer has proved to be a worthy addition to the mall’s updated F&B offerings. If you’re skeptical of yet another Italian restaurant opening in Hong Kong, you’ll be pleased to hear that this one comes with an established pedigree — chef Luca de Bernadinis previously looked after the kitchens at the old Michelin-starred Il Milione and Nicholini’s at Conrad Hong Kong. At Operetta, he’s bringing back his beautiful pastas, starting with this pillowy-soft potato gnocchi smothered in a luscious cream sauce and earthy mushrooms, evoking the essence of autumn in a bowl.
Operetta, Shop 112, 1/F, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2115 8080
CIAK – In The Kitchen
The dish: Sausage lasagnette, HK$220
CIAK’s sausage lasagnette may be more pork than lasagna, but that’s exactly how we like our cool-weather pastas — hearty and chock-full of meat. Carnivores will love the luscious ragu sauce with browned crumbles of homemade sausage, offset by acidity and brightness from fresh cherry tomatoes. Smaller than a regular lasagna, the lasagnette is ideal for those watching their carb intake — think a sort of inside-out lasagna with a flipped ratio of meat to pasta. A generous helping of buffalo mozzarella on top adds an extra layer of richness and creaminess to tie the dish together.
CIAK – In The Kitchen, Shop 327-333, Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 8869
The dish: Wagyu beef cheek fettuccine with parmesan cheese, HK$198
Beautifully designed AMMO at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre smartly rebranded to a contemporary tapas bar earlier this year (playing to the strengths of newly appointed head chef Jaime Nuñez, previously of Vasco and Isono), but luckily they’ve kept some of the brilliantly crafted pastas on the menu. In addition to the Hokkaido sea urchin tagliolini and the Boston lobster spaghetti, diners can have a comforting taste of fall in the Wagyu beef cheek fettuccine, a hearty bowl of slow-cooked beef cheek ragu interspersed amongst flat ribbons of fettuccine, with shards of baked parmesan adding a crunchy element. Like all of AMMO’s dishes, it’s as eye-catching on the plate as it is packed full of flavour.
AMMO, Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2537 9888