We weren’t sure what to expect of Operetta, the restaurant that replaced Dan Ryan’s in Pacific Place. We knew that Swire wouldn’t be foolish enough to replace that old favourite with another restaurant that serves American standards, but we were hearing stories about Operetta having a Japanese chef, which seemed at odds with the name.
It turns out the rumours were half correct: the chef is Italian, but the culinary director is Japanese. Any thoughts of Japanese-Italian fusion went out of the window as soon as we looked at the menu; some Japanese ingredients are used in the dishes, but that’s no longer unusual.
The batter on the fried Nagasaki cuttlefish with lime zest and tartare sauce (HK$90) was light, but the dish was nothing special. House-made tagliolini with Alaskan king crab and citrus vanilla (HK$220) was also just okay; we could taste a hint of vanilla, but no citrus, which would have lightened the flavours. The crabmeat was in fine shreds, and a few chunks of it would have given more texture to the combination.
Nduja diavola pizza with mozzarella, tomato, nduja paste and friarielli (HK$170) was delicious. The crust and toppings were very balanced; the crust was thin, the cornicione (the edge of the pizza) was light and airy, and there was just enough mozzarella, spicy nduja paste and friarielli (broccoli rabe), which tasted almost like a Chinese pickled vegetable, added lightness and flavour.
We also enjoyed the mains. Racan pigeon a l’étouffée with pigeon jus (HK$250 for half, HK$450 whole) was rare, moist and simple – very good. The bone marrow with confit shallots, sautéed spinach and pork crackling (HK$190) was very rich and gooey; a dish that should be shared.
Tiramisu with limoncello mascarpone foam (HK$90) was light and creamy, but was accompanied by a grainy hazelnut ice cream.
Service for the most part was indifferent, although they did refill our water glasses frequently, and we had one smiling and friendly waiter.
Operetta, Shop 112, 1/F Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, tel: 2115 8080. About HK$400 without drinks or the service charge.