Il Moro, G/F, Shop C, 2 Lok Ku Rd., Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Nearest Train:Sheung Wan
Opening Hours:Tue-Sun 1-8am
Reservation recommended: Bookings essential.
From the very start, Il Moro has gotten mixed reviews. Friends had gone for a lovely first meal and were given a hard time by the chef-owner, Joseph, when they tried to return. Yet more feedback kept pouring in—that the food was delicious, a sort of home-style Italian cooking with a Moorish twist; that the setting was dim, cozy and romantic; that the wine list had some bottles rarely seen in these parts.
We finally checked it out for ourselves, and it turns out everyone was right. On the upside, Il Moro is endearingly quirky. The down side, though, is that those quirks might not sit well with all diners—especially those who aren’t comfortable with the presence of the overbearing chef-slash-waiter. Save for a blackboard with vague categories (pastas, tagines, grilled seafood), there’s no real menu, and without consultation Joseph plopped a large antipasti tray loaded with cold cuts and cheese ($200, we later learned) on our table.
After devouring it (while enduring a lecture about olive oil), we ordered a lovely, affordable bottle of white, a pasta and a lamb tagine. The influence for the latter comes from Joseph’s mom, who is Spanish/Moroccan—and all of it was delicious. A mercurial man who loves to hear himself talk, on a recent night Joseph bellowed about how fusion restaurants in LA and Sydney are total bullshit and how his food is all completely authentic. (An Italian present suggested that the chef, too, might be a bit full of something, but shrugged off the criticism to deem the pasta amatriciana spot-on.)
So if you’re prepared to contend with the chef’s capricious nature, you’ll have a great meal. If not, it’s probably best to stick to someplace a bit more predictable. Open late or until Joseph feels like it.