Osteria Felice

Osteria Felice

Where:
Osteria Felice
Shop 16-21 G/F Hutchinson House
10 Harcourt Road, Admiralty

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s accessible from outside Hutchinson House (not from within the building).  You’ll need to go to the corner, next to the Pacific Coffee on the Lambeth Walk side.

Phone:
+852 2516 6166

Price:
HKD1,100ish for two people excluding booze.  Note that we ordered enough for three to four people. I reckon you could probably get out for HKD300-400ish per person before booze with more sensible ordering.

The deal:
The Epicurean Group (the group behind any number of restaurants that none of you ever eat at – ie. Tim’s Kitchen, Xia Fei, Agave, Club 97 and Jimmy’s Kitchen) have recently opened up the Italian restaurant, Osteria Felice with minimal fanfare in the awkward Admiralty location, Hutchinson House. Osteria Felice has the veteran Executive Chef Brian Moore at its helm and is touting a  traditional Italian menu based solidly on no-fuss classics. Antipasto, pasta, pizza yassss are all things I can get behind.

Osteria Felice has taken up residence at the former site of Il Milione, the really OTT  bombastic gold filled Italian restaurant which outside of the press and the meaningless Michelin star, I never heard anyone IRL talk about ever.  Needless to say, I never ate at Il Milione because I could never find enough motivation to drop a big stack of cash to actually eat in an unnecessarily gilded though ultimately tacky Italian restaurant in Admiralty.  I sometimes wonder who even puts together these restaurant concepts? Like seriously, who thinks “You know what people in HK want?  They just wanna ball so hard over a bowl of pasta in Admiralty while basking in gold EVERYTHING. Fuck, let’s call it ‘THE MILLION’ in Italian and ship in a totally insane amount of gold fittings to make it feel more DECADENT!”.

Since these ill-conceived golden days, the Il Milione decor has been stripped down to something more accessible, keeping a clean well fit-out look with wooden oak parquetry floors and a large open kitchen at the back.  Osteria Felice is set up as half bar / half restaurant, with the bar portion relatively full of suits, presumably sucking back some after-work drinks to dull the arduous endeavour of working for The Man.  Given there’s barely anywhere to get a post-work drink around the immediate Central / Admiralty side of town, Osteria Felice should probably see some good trade here with a decent 2-for-1 happy hour from 5 to 8pm on certain drinks.

I firmly believe that any Italian restaurant worth its salt should be able to punch out a FUCK YEAH Negroni, so as I hustled my parched ass across Statue Square towards Hutchinson House, I put in an S O S emergency message to Sir Crunchalot, to ensure that I could hit my pre-dinner Negroni aperitif as soon as I got to the restaurant.  Sir Crunchalot reported back that Osteria Felice had a good looking selection of Negronis and his continual pursuit for luxury meant that he naturally ordered the most expensive one for me, the Barrel Aged Negroni which costs HKD150 (+10% service charge, versus the bog-standard HKD80 Negroni) which has been aged in an American charred new oak barrel for minimum 2 months.

When I get to the restaurant, we are the only customers eating in the dining room, but it’s an early weeknight just post-Christmas at a newly opened restaurant, so I don’t think this is necessarily indicative of their normal trade.  However, in far more upsetting news, despite the pre-ordering to ensure a running start on aperitif time, when I get to the table, my Negroni is nowhere to be seen.  I sit down while I feign some enthusiasm for trying out a new place, desperately trying not to let my Negroni-less disappointment ruin the entire meal.

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Our waitress is efficient but not particularly chatty and as we lay down our order, there’s not much chat or background on the dishes.  It’s not long before our first antipasti is laid down on the table, the burrata and smoked sardine crostini (HKD265 +10% service charge).  I’m pretty excited as I’m a total hussy for burrata and Osteria Felice’s menu notes that they regularly ship the best mozzarella and burrata from around Italy to ensure optimum freshness for their customers.  When our burrata and sardine crostini arrive, I’m pleasantly shocked because my general experiences of crostini in restaurants, had led me to believe that crostini was Italian for miniscule pieces of crusty bread that allows restaurants to provide a scant amount of bullshit topping for an unfair amount of coin.  Osteria Felice’s crostini game is super tight, providing us with two decent slices of toasted bread, topped with a generous amount of creamy fresh burrata and a large smoked sardine fillet. The burrata is off the motherfucking chain and when paired with the just salty enough, smoked sardine fillet, I’m filled with deep love and an unfettered desire to be completely engulfed in this cream filled embrace forever.  Unnnnnnnnnnnnf, Osteria Felice’s burrata, you better believe that I want to bathe with you in some cheese:

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Our second, generously portioned, starter arrives, the roasted bone marrow with grilled bread (HKD158 +10% service charge) which consists of three large half bones and it’s everything that you’d expect from the description.  The only thing that has me scowling at this point is that my pre-ordered Negroni still hasn’t arrived 25 minutes since the pre-order was put in and I bitterly cast my mind to Osteria Felice’s menu which had claimed “having an antipasto with an aperitivo is essential to having a good life” and my thirsty ass self is so desperate for my Negroni and this said promised good life. I chase this up and 10 minutes later, my aperitif arrives just in time for mains with not a single apology or facetious nicety attached to it which is some fuck no form. The barrel aged Negroni is solid but my judgment is too clouded by waiting so fucking long for my HKD150+ drink that I don’t feel I can pass an unbiased opinion.  Especially as a barrel aged Negroni really just needs to be poured into a glass.

There’s an extensive traditional Neapolitan pizza section, with most of them ranging from the mid to high HKD100s and we went with the Calabrese (spiced salami, eggplant, basil and smoked buffalo mozzarella, HKD198 +10% service charge).  Osteria Felice have some fancy as fuck electric oven which lets them bake their pizzas at a super high temperature in less than 90 seconds, in keeping with Neapolitan pizzas not being baked for extended periods of time.  The true measure of a Neapolitan pizza is always gonna be about the crust and it’s fucking great and exactly what I would expect from a Neapolitan pizza.  Fuck yeahhhh, I can get behind a thin sourdough base, slightly soggy in the middle and a dense, just charred chewy crust with the right amount of fuck yeah bite.  The toppings are well distributed and the combination of the tomato sauce, spicy salami, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese keep a good fuck yeah balance overall.  In a testament to the decent serving sizes at Osteria Felice, we had to box up half of this pizza to go which meant I got to test out what I feel is the true measure of a fuck yeah pizza – that is, how it reheats the next day.  Osteria Felice’s smashed this test with flying colours, as I made this the centrepiece of my nutritious and balanced fuck yeah breakfast the next day.

Our final dish was the roasted half duckling with grappa preserved cherry sauce (HKD388 +10% service charge). I’m normally fundamentally opposed to fruit and meat, in particular, feral as fuck apricot.  Like really, who wants that grainy ass sub-par ugly sister to a peach in a meat dish ever?  But I can deal with cherry with meat and the duckling was fucking rad.  The grappa preserved cherry sauce was bang on in its sweet-sour balance and resulted in fuck yeah times with the rich, tender duck.

One thing to note is that we ended up with a disgraceful amount of food for two people, which I can attribute to my low expectations on HK serving sizes given my experiences at every other new restaurant.  However, Osteria Felice are doling out super fucking generous serving sizes and what I described above could have easily fed four people.  Maybe it’s cause we look like a couple of greedy fuckers but I feel our waitress should have sounded some sort of warning.  For two people, one antipasto, half a pizza and a secondi / main would have been plenty.

FYN Artist impression of how I left Osteria Felice:

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Italian food is so easy to hit the mediocre-to-boring mark as it relies so heavily on simple execution with red-hot ingredients.  But when it’s done well, it’s so fucking awesome and every dish we had at Osteria Felice was really well executed and it’s clear that there’s some high quality produce and ingredients underpinning their dishes.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been impressed by a pure Italian restaurant in Hong Kong and I’ve reflected quite a few times in the week post this meal about how much I fucking enjoyed it.  I definitely need to round up a decent number of solid nommin’ homies so I can properly smash through their menu and try their pasta as well.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! My massively expensive, pre-ordered MIA barrel aged negroni escapades aside, I’m into Osteria Felice just punching out solid fuck yeah Italian food and giving me all dem burrata and pizza based feelings.  Will Osteria Felice survive its awkward Admiralty location though? I don’t know, but it’s well worth a look and I gotta get back for more fuck yeah burrata ASAP.

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