Delish Eats: AMA Ristorante, Hong Kong’s Only Authentic Roman Restaurant
August 15, 2023
Restaurant history: AMA Ristorante opened in February 2022 by chef Paolo Monti to highlight what many Italian restaurants in Hong Kong simply fall short of: promote the quality and ingenuity of food hailing from Italian capital Rome.
Chef story: Following a two-decade-long tenure working with Gaia Group to conceptualise Italian dining rooms, chef Paolo sought to break away from corporate food-making and devote space to the craft of simple yet stunning Roman cuisine.
What’s the vibe and venue like: “It’s all about the old days of rustic Italy,” the chef says. With notes of warm brown and tan-beige cushioned furniture, AMA exudes a brash Italianity, aging with greatness. Wait till sunset, and the five-metre-high ceiling fills up with warm light from the surrounding windows.
How much does it cost: We ordered from the a la carte menu for two, costing HK$1,546 for four antipasti, a big pasta dish, and secondi with a side dish.
What’s the menu about: The menu begins with highlights of Rome, organised into deep fried, roasted & baked, steamed & poached, and raw & marinated antipasti, a selection of pastas, secondi for grilled meats and fish, and a boastful section for sweet desserts.
What did we order: Zucchine & Flowers (HK$148), Carciofini alla Giuda (HK$168), Ama la Burrata (HK$178), Alicette Marinate Piccanti (HK$198), Maccheroni Amatriciana (HK$288), Italian Veal Chop (HK$488), and Eggplant (HK$118).
Zucchine & Flowers: We began our meal with what Chef describes as “Roman dim sum,” fried snacks filled with meat and vegetable fillings perfect for one bite. The zucchini flowers were sumptuous, with a juicy scarmorze filling, fruity flavour of the vegetable, and salt to end.
Carciofini alla Giudia: The crispy artichokes are an ode to the Roman-Jewish creation during the war in the capital. I found the artichoke’s starchy potato-like flavour interesting, but not strong enough to wow me. The salt-coating boosted the vegetable flavour.
Alicette Marinate Piccanti: With chef’s demystification in Roman cuisine, the anchovies quickly became my favourite, prepared with the familiar cod fish balls found in Cantonese cooking. It was addictively salty and sour, cleansing the palate for meatier dishes soon.
Maccheroni Amatriciana: There is no chef Paolo without the traditional amatriciana, a tomato base pasta dish with pepper, pecorino, and a meat addition. The Amatricianist, as chef calls himself, excels at a dish that oozes umami with tomato, beef cuts, and plump pasta bites, slightly al dente for a memorable crunch.
Italian Veal Chop: While I prefer my Italian secondi to consist of strong salty beef cuts, this succulent cut of white meat was fruity to taste and meaty with its peppery exterior as an aftertaste. Scoop each cut with its jus and sample its balanced sweet-savoury flavour.
What we liked: I was a big fan of the amatriciana, served to indulge many with its beefy tomato sauce. The notes of strong garlic and pecorino romano fused umami with sharp salty flavours. Amazing!
What we didn’t like: The artichokes lacked depth that came with all other dishes at AMA Ristorante. I concede that maybe the antipasti does not need a great aftertaste, but compared to other dishes, the broad starch flavour was the only thing that stuck out.
What you should order: Zucchine & Flowers, Alicette Marinate Piccanti, Maccheroni Amatriciana, Pajata alla Cacciatora, Lasagnetta with Coda a la Vaccinara, Spigola Seabass, and Pinsa Tartufata
Location: AMA Ristorante, 25/F, 208 Johnson Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Contact details: +852 3702 0806
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by AMA Ristorante in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Delish Eats reviews here.
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