Rating: ★★★★★

Address: Shop Nos.16-21, G/F, Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Road, Central 中環夏愨道10號和記大廈地下16-21號舖

Telephone: 2481 1120

http://www.il-milione.com/index.html

中環區已經有不少高級餐廳,當又有一家高級意大利餐廳Il Milione 開張時,我實在很想看看這餐廳有什麼不同之處。Il Milione 主要是供應意大利Umbria 一帶的菜式,運用新鮮,合時的材料來煮出一些不花巧的美食。Il Milione的主廚是意大利人Marco Gubbiotti,而材料每星期兩次由Umbria空運來餐廳。餐廳晚餐價錢每位大概$1,000以上,但最近新推出一個Executive Lunch,$180-$210有一道主菜及一杯酒或其他飲品。主菜份量正常,不算大份,但味道一流,絕對是有水準的一頓午餐!

One thing we certainly don’t lack in Central is expensive, high-end restaurants that cater to the office crowd. So when the new kid on the block Il Milione opened, it had to distinguish itself from the many other fine dining restaurants in the area.

Located on the ground floor of Hutchison House, Il Milione exudes class and elegance as soon as you push open its giant brass door. In tones of black and gold, this luxurious and subtly sombre venue seems destined to become a playground amongst the rich. The bar showcases an unapologetically vast selection of liqueurs – Il Milione currently stocks the largest collection of gins amongst restaurants in Asia, and bartender Giancarlo Mancino (previously of 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo) has designed an impressive cocktails list with a focus on vintage 1930s cocktails. His unique Mancino’s Negroni Ragazzino is worth a mention, as it is made with Giancarlo’s own brand of vermouth, Mancino Vermouth.

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Named after named after Marco Polo’s travelogue, Il Milione‘s drinks menu is printed on a newspaper-style card, with Marco Polo’s image printed on it.

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Besides the impressive drinks list, the restaurant also serves a fine selection of Umbrian dishes – head chef Marco Gubbiotti, who grew up with Umbrian cuisine, creates simple yet sophisticated offerings using fresh, seasonal ingredients flown in from Umbria twice a week.

The service was gracious and polished without being overbearing. The price for dinner is around $1,000 or above per head, which is to be expected for a restaurant of such calibre. However, there is now a new Executive Lunch at Bar, which only costs around $180-$210 and includes one main course and one alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink from a selected list. This is a great bargain for trying out some of Il Milione‘s refined cuisine and exquisite cocktails!

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Every dish at Il Milione was prepared with care and attention. Our culinary journey began with some fine Italian breads that were prepared using premium flour and natural yeast. The Umbrian extra virgin olive oil smelled and tasted startlingly fragrant.

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To me, it is almost a sin to turn down artisanal breads. Seeing how much I enjoyed the bread basket, the manager very kindly brought me some bread that was usually served at dinner – housemade grissini, and bread rolls in four different flavours: pork fat, butter, squid ink and cherry tomato. Each roll was distinctive and delicious in its own way – I felt completely satiated, yet I could not wait to try the other dishes that awaited!

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(1) Finding it a bit too early to drink, I turned down the enticing cocktails and went for a Detox Drink, made with blueberries, strawberries, goji, brown rice, coconut oil and raw chocolate powder. Not only was this drink packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, it was also insanely delicious! Fruit bits and brown rice gave it a desirable texture, while the cocoa powder completely lifted its flavours.

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(2) For a light meal, the Organic Spelt Salad is a healthy option that packs a punch. The organic spelt gave the salad a great bite, while the roasted zucchini, eggplant and red prawns offered a terrific range of flavours. The sauce, made from a prawn reduction, was fully flavoured and tasted sea-fresh.

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(3) The Gragnano short pasta “Puttanesca” style took a bit longer to arrive, but its flavours were faultless. The pasta was perfectly al dente – the chef could not have done it any better – and was cooked with chopped anchovies, capers and olives in an intentionally salty tomato sauce. This impeccable dish satisfied me from the stomach to the soul.

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(4) A Spaghetti Mancini with clams from the Mediterranean sea also completely won me over. The spaghetti had the perfect texture, but the real gem was the Mediterranean clams, which were just cooked without being in the heat for a second longer than necessary and were utterly tender. This pasta left me speechless with awe, and at the same time I prayed that the portion was a tad bigger.

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(5) For those wanting a more substantive main course, the Beef Cutlet “Milanese” style with mashed potato and mixed salad would be your choice. The beef cutlet was attractively dry and crisp on the surface, while marvellously tender in the middle – a simple and brilliant dish that would keep you full and satisfied.

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(6) Desserts can be ordered separately, and we went for some Deep Fried Custard ($50). Presented in a glass jar, these fried ovals looked ordinary but tasted explosively good. Inside a thin, airy layer of crust was warm, light-as-air custard – this dessert was unmissable.

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(7) We also shared an Italian Tiramisu ($85). Each spoonful was sublimely creamy, and the crushed biscuits on top of the tiramisu did wonders to it, adding not only exotic flavours but also a magnificent element of crunch.

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(8) Straying from my preferred latte, I decided to try out the bar’s Mauro Espresso Long Drink, which was made with double espresso shaken with home made vanilla syrup (we asked for a non-alcoholic version). This chilled drink was invigorating and tasty even without a trace of milk.

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Some friends who have visited Il Milione within its first few months of opening thought that the kitchen needed to iron out some kinks. Based on my recent lunch visit, it seems that the restaurant has managed to fine-tune its cuisine, as the execution of dishes was spot on, which showed off the chef’s strong foundation in classic Umbrian cooking. With an elegant and luxurious decor, an army of attentive staff and an enviable food and drinks menu, Il Milione is going strong amidst the fierce competition in Hong Kong’s fine dining scene.