Dan Ryan’s always struck me as the sort of restaurant firmly embedded in Hong Kong’s past, i.e. at least 20 years ago. The only time I went, the food was also stuck in the past, but not in a good way. They still exist in Ocean Terminal, if anyone is keen to spend $188 on baked potato skins, ‘double cooked for crispiness’.
So I didn’t really understand the outpouring of anger by disgusted of Stanley et al when they closed last year in Pacific Place. They were replaced by Operetta, somewhere that promises ‘innovative family-style Italian cuisine laced with timeless tradition’.
There’s a casual feel to the place, the interiors a mix of wood, copper and mirrors which has become so popular in the city.
The bar is separate from the dining room, a bit on the cosy side, but a warm welcome came from the affable Giulia behind it. A sore throat meant rum with ginger juice, honey and pineapple was on order, complete with huge shards of ginger. They also do a happy hour where you buy one and get one half price, which seems just a teeny bit unhappy, but then again there are free antipasti to enjoy too.
Bread and oil and balsamico are proffered, but it’s always a good idea to explain what they are and where they’re from, especially in a place which talks about the importance of provenance. It’s a simple way to set out the stall and expectations for a meal. Beef Carpaccio ($140) came with some scattered green peas and dots of a black truffle sauce, but I felt it needed some citrus lift or sharpness, as well as a more generous hand on seasoning.
Across the table the vegetarian was more than happy with gnocchi with mushrooms, while passing pizzas and calzones were mahoosive and looked the real deal. Monkfish tail wrapped in pancetta ($220) was excellent cooking of good quality ingredients, the balance between the give of the fish and the crisp of the pork, the latter providing natural salt to be countered by the lovely sweet tang of caponata, truly one of Italy’s most underrated dishes. Never have raisins and nuts gone so well with vegetables.
Dessert bought a lovely white peach number with vanilla ice cream and some toffee crumble. As regular readers will notice, however, I somehow managed to delete my photos from this dinner and they didn’t have a professional one to share. So you’ll have to take my word for it that it looked as good as it tasted.