Think Italian food, and you generally think of a pretty heavy, hearty kind of meal; pizzas, pastas, huge chunks of meat and, of course cheese galore! Under the watchful eye of two Michelin-starred chef Pino Lavarra, Tosca at the Ritz-Carlton offers Italian fine dining with a lighter touch, in a setting that will have you swooning.
Chef Lavarra is brand new to Tosca, and is bringing an innovative outlook to the menu; focusing on unexpected combinations of flavours and interesting textures, making this several cuts above the usual Italian fare. Of course, the restaurant’s location on the 102nd floor of the ICC can’t help but add to the wow factor, and we were lucky to have clear-as-a-bell weather for our visit – something that isn’t always a sure thing in Hong Kong (more on that later!).
We started with what we expected to be two Italian classics – parmigiana and buffalo mozzarella – but there was nothing familiar at all about these dishes, with the parmigiana wrapped in spaghetti and anchovies, and filled with mozzarella and crispy chickpeas, and the buffalo mozzarella served adorned in gold leaf and accompanied by a (sounds weird, tastes amazing!) mozzarella martini, mixed tableside with a generous glug of Grey Goose. Of the two starters, I thought the buffalo mozzarella slightly edged it, with the spaghetti a little on the heavy side in comparison.
Next up was a truly marvellous frittata of spaghetti with lobster – something that I could have eaten a lot of before ever tiring of it – and a cheese-stuffed cannelloni with summer veg and a truffle sauce. Then came the main event; a beautifully cooked John Dory filet and a mini lamb rack, beautifully adorned with summer flowers and accompanied by all the trimmings including a serving of lamb bacon – not something that I was previously aware existed, but absolutely delicious.
The piece de la resistance was, as ever for me, dessert. I barely even noticed the light and refreshing panacotta served with a dessert wine jelly and fresh fruit, as I was way too busy admiring my plate from every angle, containing as it did a chocolate box filled with brandy mousse, white chocolate ‘snow’ and crispy raspberries. Honestly, this is the sort of dessert that’s so pretty that it seems almost criminal to eat it, but I gamely broke in through the crisp chocolate and happily lingered over the not-too-sweet mousse.
After-dinner coffee was also a treat in itself, served in what can only be described as a large flask of the sort you’d expect in a science lab, and accompanied by a gorgeous petit four selection. This ridiculously pretty confection was inspired by Chef Lavarra’s experience of Hong Kong from high up in his crows’ nest on the 102 floor – the delicate truffles, macarons and chocolates come served on a fluffy bed of candyfloss, representing the all-too-frequent clouds that envelop the restaurant… genius!
Finding dinner with a view in Hong Kong can often lead you down a pretty well-trodden path, so Tosca is an exciting and unique addition that makes for a special date night dinner, or a location to take visitors to really showcase Hong Kong at its best. Really want to knock someone’s socks off? I defy anyone – no matter how long they’ve been in Hong Kong – not to be awed by the view from Ozone upstairs, so arrive early for pre-dinner cocktails as the sun goes down to really make an evening of it.
The Ritz-Carlton, Level 102, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Tel: 852 2263 2270