Cafe Roma brings country-style Italian cooking to Hong Kong and features the food of "Il Paese", the country. The dishes focus on the cooking of southern Italy starting from the beautiful city of Rome and Sicily in the south and Puglia on the east coast.
All the dishes we serve are country-style-- simple, fresh and tasty-- and involve less butter and cream and more Meditteranean ingredients such as olive oil, tomatoes, capers, lemons and fresh herbs as well as whole wheat pastas and grains.
Following recipes passed down through generations and the simplest cooking methods, our dishes are full of robust flavors.
That was the promise of Cafe Roma.
I went there with my boyfriend yesterday for dinner. We were to meet up with his good friend, Mirko. Mirko is a full-bred Italian who has spent more than 7 years living here in Hong Kong. (Later on in the evening, I learned through him that bruschetta wasn't pronounced as broo-she-ta but brus-ke-ta) With those information factored in, I was assured that Cafe Roma wasn't gonna let me down.
Their bruschetta looked different from the bruschetta that I became familiar with.It was a 6-inch loaf of bread halved crosswise and cut into smaller pieces irregularly. The tomatoes were diced, as opposed to sliced thinly. ("That's bruschetta! You cut the tomatoes thinly."-- Jack from The Broken Hearts' Club) On top was a heap--- a heap, not a layer--- of rocket leaves. The bread was toasted focaccia, not baguette. Winner!
My boyfriend, T, ordered minestone to start with. Tasty, it sure was. But the portion was too small. When his soup arrived, T said, "Do they think I'm on a diet?" And he's not even a big eater like me.
My Penne Ciociara finally arrived 25 minutes after we placed my order. It was a bit too long. But because their kitchen was visible from the small dining area, I didn't complain. I could see that they were preparing everything on-the spot, and not reheating the sauce. On the menu, my pasta was described as Penne with olives, capers, anchovies, pine nuts and tomato sauce. Appetizing. When my food came, it was better than I had expected. The anchovies didn't taste too fishy or too salty. The flavor of the capers didn't fight with the anchovies. The flavors were subtle and pleasantly balanced. It could use just a little more pine nuts though.
Mirko, T and Jacklin all ordered Rigatoni Integrale Caffe Roma--- whole wheat large tubular pasta with prosciutto, ricotta and spinach. The prosciutto and the spinach provided the contrasting flavors and texture with every bite. The ricotta gave me an orgasm.
The ambience was casually Italian. Not snooty like other Italian places. In fact, it was cozy and accommodating. But not fastfood-y either, like Sbarro. They had vintage black and white photos on the wall, and miniature wine bottles as centerpiece for each table. While you're there and waiting for your order, try to look at the photos and see which they hung upside down. Intentional or not, there's no way we could know. The place was small, making it feel very intimate, but it would also make you think twice about coming at lunchtime.
The staff was very friendly and attentive. They were very courteous even when T complained about how small their serving was. They're probably used to hearing that from people.
Cafe Roma is located at Shop 1, Ground Floor, Jervois House, 1 Jervois Street, Central, HK-- right at the corner of the fork across the street from Fitness First Sheung Wan. You may call them at 25178484 for reservation or delivery (yes! they do deliver). Feel free to drop in for a taste anytime, just be sure you have a back-up sandwich, just in case.