My love for Italian food stems from 2011, when I got married in Florence. The epitome of Italian food to me screams fresh, seasonal and full of flavour, so I was extremely excited to finally try out the popular Jamie’s Italian and see whether it’s managed to encapsulate Italian flavour within a casual dining environment.
Based in Midtown, this little gem feels like it’s hidden world’s away from the numbing buzz that is Causeway Bay. As soon as you enter, you are hit by a kaleidoscope of colours and energy. All branches of the Jamie’s Italian franchise are designed to be sympathetic to the host city’s personality without losing sight of its Italian feel or Jamie Oliver’s ethos. From the dramatic graffiti art that guides you up the escalators to the iconic hanging meats framing the pasta and antipasti bars to the vintage Thomas Crapper toilets, aesthetically speaking this restaurant definitely demands your attention from the get go.
On arrival, we were greeted by our friendly waitress, Christy, who explained the menu in detail and walked us through the specials list. We started by ordering a few starters to share, which didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend sharing Jamie’s starters, although if you are territorial over your antipasti that’s also fine; the menu caters to both personalities so don’t panic! The sharing planks of cured meat and cheese were scrumptious. My personal favourite from the platter had to be the flavourful mortadella, but the arancini won my award for best starter. These little golden delights are so moorish and were cooked to perfection served with arrabbiata sauce (although my husband thought they could have been a little more moist).
Our tiny diner, Freya, was more than eager to sample the food from the children’s menu. I thought the kids’ menu was fantastic as it provided great food options and doubled up as a colouring sheet to entertain our little rugrats as they got restless waiting for their yummy lunch. Added to this were the vibrant viewfinders that accompanied the young diner’s menu, displaying pictures of the various dishes with retro charm. This definitely entertained the adults in our group!
Moving onto the mains, I had to go for the sausage pappardelle, I am such a fan of pappardelle. The name has its origins in the Italian verb “pappare”, meaning to gobble up, and that I did. I would have liked a bit more sauce in the dish, but I was still very happy with the flavours. My husband opted for the fish in a bag (which he was very pleased about as he said every time he watches a Jamie Oliver cookery show he seems to be cooking a fish in a bag). The fish of the day was Halibut, which had been cooked perfectly and was served with an array of shellfish and cracked wheat.
Our friends, Alex & Paul, went for the fresh crab spaghetti and “Gennaro’s porchetta” from the specials menu. It was safe to say I had major food envy of the porchetta (named in honour of Jamie’s mentor, Gennaro Contaldo). It not only looked amazing but tasted divine (according to Paul… it was so good that he didn’t share!) There was a slight misnomer with the crab spaghetti in that, sadly, it didn’t seem to contain much crab. Our tiny diner chose the puppy dogs, and they seemed to go down very well. The children’s dishes were all nicely presented and didn’t feel too childish – good job, Jamie!
Desserts are a deal breaker for me (as they are for most women), so even though I was beginning to feel like I had over-indulged, I had to politely accept the dessert menu (obviously) and scan through what Jamie’s had to offer. I can’t lie – when I saw tutti fruitti lemon meringue pie I fully committed myself to having a dessert. Between us we ordered the tiramisu, the epic brownie and the lemon meringue pie, as well as the vanilla ice cream for Freya. When all of the sweet treats arrived, I picked up my weapon (aka spoon) and devoured the lemon meringue pie quicker than you can say ‘dolce’. It was indulgent but also had a refreshingly tangy bite to it. I also managed a few spoonfuls of my husband’s deliciously moist tiramisu, and safe to say I needed a taxi home.
It was an all-round thumbs up for us – from the food and the ambience to the friendly and efficient service, we felt very welcome and not out of place with our children. The natural energy given off from the tables around us created the ideal backdrop to take your family for a well-earned lunch / dinner. An extra thumbs up goes to our attentive waitress, who remembered the name of our little diner, Freya, which was a lovely personal touch. As you can see, our tiny diner was all smiles:
Yes, elevator access to the restaurant for families with strollers (although you will need a member of Jamie’s team to accompany you to the elevator in the main Midtown building, which otherwise doesn’t provide access to Jamie’s), but otherwise there is an escalator straight to the restaurant from street level.
Yes, the Stokke Tripp Trapp (for all you Scandi design lovers) in a variety of colours.
Yes – A fantastic children’s menu that is printed on the back of a colouring sheet.
Incredibly reasonable. Main meals range from $65 for a small plate of pasta to $300 for a 10-oz ribeye steak (excluding specials). Kids’ meals all cost $58 (+$8 for dessert).
Monday-Sunday, 11am – 11pm. Booking is advised but walk-ins are also encouraged (only 20% of tables are allocated to reservations).
Jamie’s Italian, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 3958 2222