Opened to much deserving fanfare last year, Al Molo is one of the finer restaurants in the vast commercial complex that is Harbour City. The stunning 7,000 square-foot venue is the collaborative product of a partnership between the award-winning New York chef Michael White and the leading local restaurant group, Dining Concepts. While these leaders took care of the management and food, the New York design firm Avroko and Hong Kong’s Zanghellini Holt took care of the interior design.
Luckily for locals, all the involved parties delivered in their designated areas, with Al Molo now featuring an appealing New York restaurant design aesthetic and an enticing menu of Michael White’s creations. Overseen mostly by White, the concept of the restaurant is ‘New York Italian,’ which is a popular Manhattan cuisine involving flavoursome generously-portioned Italian food which White has perfected and served up in homey Italian-themed settings for years. In fact his perfection has secured him many awards and he is most known for his two Michelin star rated New York eatery Marea, which was honoured as ‘Best New Restaurant in America’ and got White nominated as ‘Best Chef in New York City.’
With Al Molo, White has not held back in any way and he has successfully managed to export his hearty Italian New York cuisine to a deserving site just across the water from the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui (hence the name Al Molo, which means ‘The Pier’ in Italian. This site is one of pure stylishness, with the massive space featuring old Manhattan restaurant inspired aesthetics. What this translates to is rustic-looking plank ceilings, raw exposed brick walls, long fine marble countertops, characteristic mosaic flooring and plenty of carved wood. Spotted throughout the restaurant are also industrial iron fittings and eye-catching decorative lighting which all, of course, rival the ever-impressive skyline of Hong Kong that attractively glares into the restaurant via the tall windows and the outdoor terrace, offering up alfresco dining right by the harbour. Other key features of the restaurant include semi-open cooking stations that flank both sides of the massive dining room, a walk-in bread-baking oven and an eruditely-stocked bar. In terms of seating, the restaurant offers various dining setups which include relaxed casual dining on the terrace, more private seating in black leather booths inside, plus some other more communal longer dining tables to accommodate bigger parties inside as well.
Nevertheless, while the interior is undoubtedly striking, the menu is equally extraordinary with some of White’s imported signatures naturally appearing here in Hong Kong where the appointed executive chef Jimmy Everett, a protégé of White, does a good job of representing the ‘king of Italian cooking in New York.’ White’s signatures include handcrafted pastas swathed in indulgent sauces plus his famous antipasti offerings. Headlining the menu also are seasonal fish dishes including local sea bass with artichokes, roasted peppers, riso nero and dates and New Zealand john dory with grilled peach, almonds, salsa verde and roasted shallots. Other highlights include dishes of hand-selected meats such as roasted guinea hen with celery root, asparagus and cippolini agrodolce; herb roasted lamb saddle, farro, cavolo nero plus spring onion and braised veal shank with bone marrow, saffron risotto and sautéed spinach.
Originally published in Today’s Living magazine, March 2012