Rating: ★★★★☆

Address: 102/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀柯士甸道西1號環球貿易廣場(ICC)香港麗思卡爾頓酒店102樓

Telephone: 2960 9222

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/HongKong/Dining/tosca/Default.htm#

When Ritz-Carlton was still located in Central, its Italian restaurant Toscana used to be a prized Italian restaurant in Hong Kong. When Tosca opened in the new hotel in West Kowloon, diners naturally had very high expectations of it.

The restaurant has a spacious, opulent decor and a world-class sea view, and the service is attentive and polished. When I came here last time, the restaurant was still helmed by chef Vittorio Lucariello. In May this year, the hotel appointed a new chef, Michelin two starred chef Pino Lavarra, who came from Puglia, Italy (see my review of a restaurant in Puglia here). HK Epicurus, a well-travelled, knowledgeable food blogger with a discerning palate and a photographic memory of food (but sadly not of people), and I decided to come try out the new chef’s creations.

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(1) A selection of fine, aromatic Italian breads were presented to us, served with a piece of butter covered in tomato powder. The breads were satisfying, and I particularly enjoyed the fragrant, savoury rosemary bread. (On a side note, I generally prefer French breads to Italian breads, but the freshly baked grissini at Grissini (see my review here) are pretty awesome.)

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(2) We ordered a set lunch, which cost $398 for 3 courses, and some à la carte dishes to share. The steamed asparagus tips, burrata cheese, sun-dried Corbarini tomatoes and Agerola wheat biscuit ($270) had a pleasing presentation. The delicate flavours of the white and green asparagus, kissed by some black truffle shavings and balsamic vinegar, were refined and delicious. Many upscale restaurants make a point of not serving gigantic portions, but there was a tad too little burrata cheese in this appetiser to satisfy us.

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(3) The Parmesan panna cotta with fried bread, mushroom, radicchio and roasted pears (set lunch), on the other hand, was very generous with the cheese. The Parmesan panna cotta had an appealingly smooth texture, but it was slightly bitter; I did, however, enjoy the fried bread very much!

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(4) Fine, authentic Italian pasta in Hong Kong is sometimes hard to find, and the conchiglioni, semolina and provolone cheese sauce, Fassone beef ragout, pecorino cheese and horseradish ($350) was truly tasty. The presentation and taste of this dish was sophisticated, with the different cheeses adding inspiring flavours to the dish and the red tomato jelly contributing to the beautiful colour composition.

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(5) The black truffle tagliolini gratin, roasted corn-fed chicken in cream sauce (set lunch) was delightful. The tagliolini boasted a fabulously springy texture and an eggy taste, and the sauce was also utterly satisfying.

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(6) The baked sea bream with stewed celeriac, black bread fritters, fried white bait and white wine sauce (set lunch) was well executed. The crispy skinned sea bream was tender and moist underneath. My dining companion, however, was not too impressed by its overly Asian elements (see his review here).

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(7) Our dessert was a crème brûlée cartellette with pear, blackberries, and Moscato wine ice cream (set lunch). The dessert was delicious and balanced (albeit not having crème brûlée in it), and I particularly adored the Moscato ice cream, which was sensuous with an aftertaste of sweet wine.

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(8) I ordered a cup of Caffe Latte, which ended up being served as a Latte Macchiato, with the waiter pouring the espresso shot into the frothed milk at the table. The result was quite milky, but the espresso’s flavour was very decent.

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(9) The petit fours were rolled out. The platter looked very pretty, but would have been even better if it had more of an Italian flair!

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From this meal, we managed to get a glimpse of chef Pino Lavarra’s style, which was refined, elegant and creative. If he could fine-tune the flavours so that his dishes taste as good as they look, the shining Michelin stars should not be far off!