REVIEW

Tosca

Tosca is located on the same floor as Tin Lung Heen in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, which, occupying the 102 to 118th floors of Kowloon’s ICC building, is the world’s highest hotel. It has sweeping views of the Hong Kong Skyline, which becomes gloriously illuminated during the nightly Symphony of Lights multimedia show as more than 40 skyscrapers, traversing the entire panorama of the cityscape, participate with flashing colored lights, laser beams and search lights. The double-height dining room has a stylish contemporary design with, appropriately for a seafood-oriented restaurant, a number of references to water: its blue color scheme, a dangling cascade of beads that resemble rainfall, aqua fountains, etc. As at Caprice, a sleek open kitchen juts out like a thrust stage into the dining room. Glass wine cellars line the corridors, interspersed periodically with arresting sculptural displays. A massive chrome chandelier towers overhead.

The cuisine is southern Italian, in particular seafood, and features familiar dishes prepared in innovative, unfamiliar ways with colorful and architectural presentations that are stunningly beautiful to look at. A spaghetti “alla chitarra”, flavored with basil chlorophyll and wrapped in swordfish paper with baby squid and black olive oil, had a totally unique flavor profile. It was rich and light. The swordfish was delicate and tender, while the pasta was al dente. Pair it with a glass of Soave Classico Monte Carbonare, and it will be one of the more interesting and memorable pastas you’ve had in some time. A lamb fillet wrapped in rose and Rosolio liquor crust was delicious, but slightly undercooked and the fat was insufficiently trimmed, making it difficult to cut and chew. It came with salsify mirror potatoes so flavorful and crispy I couldn’t believe it, and a sun dried tomato for the ages.

The service was highly attentive and friendly, but also a little bizarre at times, as in when, an hour and a half through my meal and in the middle of a huge bite, I suddenly noticed the waiter’s hands in my lap. He gave me a proud look and inquired “May I offer better color for you?” He had replaced my white napkin with a black one, presumably due to the dark color of my pants. Or the four separate occasions when a waiter referred to the chef as a “two Michelin star chef”, a frequency highly unlikely absent instructions to do so. Look, Pino Lavarra is an enormously talented chef, but he earned two Michelin stars a decade ago at a separate restaurant. Once a Michelin starred chef always a Michelin starred chef? The restaurant should stop trying to piggyback off that outdated accolade and simply let the food speak for itself; people who are the real deal don’t have to brag about it. It’s self-evident. Being so relentlessly self-promotional is both tacky and off-putting. On the other hand, the waiter topped up one of my wine glasses and upgraded another to a more premium wine without any incremental charge.

Tosca is already the second best Italian restaurant in Hong Kong, after 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombano. It could easily become the best in time.

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INFORMATION

Kowloon
Level 102, International Commerce Centre
1 Austin Road West
+852 2263-2270
Mon-Sat, noon-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm; Sun, 11am-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm
    Pino Lavarra, Chef
    Spin Design Studio, Designer

    TAGS

    • Hong Kong
    • Italian
    • Best Decor
    • Best View
    • Best Wine Lists
    • Private Dining Room

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