HK Island, Restaurant Review

Review: ISOLA bar + grill

ISOLA bar + grill is a chic Italian restaurant and bar on Central’s spectacular waterfront at IFC mall, opened in 2004. Its name means “island” in Italian, so it’s quite suitable for a restaurant on Hong Kong island. We went there for the first time on a Sunday, looking for a quick but good Italian lunch. We did not have anything fancy in mind and just wanted some pizza and pasta.

We were lucky, there was a table immediately available and we sat at the window – normally there’s a large queue outside of the restaurant, but given that it was already close to 2pm, the big lunch time rush has died down a little. The waitress suggested that we try the Sunday lunch buffet, which was reasonable priced (I think it was under 300 HKD excluding service charge) and included an antipasti buffet with imported Italian cheeses, cured meats and roasted vegetables. Mains include homemade fettuccine with traditional oxtail tomato sauce, risotto with mushrooms, sea bream or chicken. This was followed by the lavish dessert buffet. It all looked nice – but given that we only wanted a quick bite, we opted for the a la carte menu. Maybe this was the mistake we made? People around us seemed to enjoy the buffet very much.

Service generally was a little slow – but it was a busy day. Still, the waitress had challenges to smile – she seemed unhappy and keen to finish her job. She kept refilling our water glasses almost every 10 minutes (to finish the bottle) but when we ran low on the bread in the basket, she ignored this. Anyway, let’s talk more about the surroundings – the restaurant is very white and bright, it has a refreshing atmosphere and a gorgeous view. But it was crowded and loud. We had to talk quite loud, over the other voices, to continue our discussion.

Patrick ordered Porcini mushroom risotto with a Parmesan chip, and it was nice and creamy. But quite expensive for what it was – 208 HKD, and there was not even a truffle in sight. The taste was good, the portion was enough, but it was not amazing.

I choose a pizza with parma ham and arugula, one of my favourites. Again, 228 HKD, for a pizza is a hefty price tag. It better be good! But it was not. The toppings were nice and there was a lot of ham on the pizza, but the dough was funny, it was too dry and tasted too much like yeast – I don’t know what was wrong with the pizza, but every time I cut a piece, the bottom layer crumbled away from the top layer. It was too dry! I assume that the dough had not been stretched and rested enough. It tasted ok, but actually given the price was 228 HKD (for this price I can get two yummy pizzas at other places) I felt cheated.

No one asked us if we had liked our dishes – and as we just asked for the bill, they brought it. No suggestions what we could have for dessert or any other comment to make our lunch experience any better. We felt that a bill of 600 HKD for a quick Italian lunch was a waste of our money, the quality was not there and we just paid for the view that we could have had by walking around the IFC for free. There are many better Italian places in town, Posto Publicco is one of my favourite places, Pizza Express has never disappointed me when it comes to pizzas and also Linguini Fini is great for a quick pasta dish. So next time, bye bye ISOLA and we’ll go to another place for pizza and pasta.

Will I go there again? NO. Great views but too expensive for what it is. The pizza dough was wrong, but the risotto was nice. Overall the service was not great and the restaurant can be very loud at lunch time.

ISOLA bar + grill
Shop 3071-75, Level 3, IFC mall, Central, Hong Kong

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