25 Queens Rd East, Wanchai
Visited 25th June 2008
Wednesday was rather eventful: a typhoon signal 8 meant school was cancelled, I spent an eternity shopping in the never ending maze of frustration that is IKEA and my umbrella split in two and blew away down Leighton Rd in the middle of Causeway Bay. When I staggered into il Bel Paese I was tied, wet, frustrated and craving caffeine. This deli, come café, come produce store is one of my favourite places for lunch on Hong Kong Island. Downstairs there’s a takeaway counter and a fabulous selection of cheeses and cured meats, while upstairs there’s a few tables in the middle of tempting shelves of Italian wine and dry goods.
I ordered a coffee and a serve of spaghetti with meatballs and retired upstairs to dry out and refuel. The pasta was just what I needed on such a wet and raucous day; the tasty pork meatballs were smeared in a lush tomato sauce that was enhanced with generous amounts of olive oil and fresh oregano leaves. In Italian tradition everything at il Bel Paese is severed with bread and the slices of airy white loaf I was given worked a treat to soak up the left over sauce.
I go out of my way to eat at il Bel Pacese as the traditional food is honest, tasty and good value. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, service is informal and relaxed, lacking any of the stiff formality and pretentiousness that dominates so many of Hong Kong’s western restaurants. The fantastic selection of Italian groceries are good value, especially compared with the piracy just up the road at the so called ‘Great’. The one problem is not walking with too many bottles of Italian wine.
Visit restaurant website.