“Three Michelin stars is the most important achievement I have ever had. It is a big honor as only few restaurants in the world have three Michelin stars. It was something I only dreamed about. Yes, it changes everything in my profession. The achievement brings positive challenges to me as I have to maintain the good work”
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo is not only the name of a movie masterpiece by Federico Fellini, is also synonymous with another masterpiece, this time culinary, by Chef Umberto Bombana. Three Michelin stars, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo is one of the most renowned and appreciated restaurants in Hong Kong. And not only in Hong Kong. Read on.
You created one of the most famous, and valued, restaurants in Hong Kong. “8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo” is special, starting from the name. Why did you decide to name your new restaurant after one of the best and most famous Federico Fellini movies?
Because it is one of my favorite movies. It represents the search for inspiration in a very good culture and historical moment of Italy.
Three Michelin stars… the first and only tree Michelin stars Italian restaurant outside of Italy. What did you think and feel when the third star arrived? Did it change anything in your professional (and maybe in your personal) life?
Three Michelin stars is the most important achievement I have ever had. It is a big honor as only few restaurants in the world have three Michelin stars.
It was something I only dreamed about. Yes, it changes everything in my profession. The achievement brings positive challenges to me as I have to maintain the good work.
How important is the quality of the ingredients and in the success of a high end restaurant like 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo?
Having good-quality ingredients is the most important.
Which part of Italy do you come from?
Bergamo in Northern Italy.
If asked what is your ‘signature dish’, the one you love to prepare, what would you answer?
There are a lot of signature dishes that it is difficult to choose one.
What do you like to cook for yourself when you are not at work, maybe when you are back to Italy on a business trip or on a holiday?
I like to try everything as long as it is well-prepared.
Some Italian restaurants – even the best ones – have to adapt their cuisine to the local taste. Was this the case also for 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo – and if yes, how? Or did you keep your cuisine 100% faithful to the original Italian recipes?
It is not my case. I respect ingredients and cook them well. Customers have their own preference, but I believe as long as I prepare the dishes well, from pasta to fish and to meat, I know everyone will appreciate them.
Which is your favorite ‘non-Italian’ restaurant in Hong Kong?
Too many, from Chinese, Japanese and French cuisine. Hong Kong has lots of restaurants with best expression.
What do you think about the Hong Kong Public and their understanding and appreciation of typical Italian cuisine?
Hong Kong has a mature and knowledgeable market for refined food. The people here travel a lot and have good knowledge of Italian food. They have international exposure and palate.
How long have you been living in Hong Kong and why did life take you in this part of the world?
I have been living in Hong Kong for 20 years. When you are a good chef, you have the opportunity to work anywhere in the world. I love here because I can get the best ingredients and attract the best customers.
What is in your personal opinion the most overestimated cuisine in the world?
As long as the cuisine is well-prepared, it is wonderful. It represents the culture of a city or county and the area of ingredients that they come from. It fascinates all people to learn the culture of a society through the cuisine.
What next? Is 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo a point of arrival or departure point for new challenges?
Challenges exist every day. Restaurant has its own life. It is not about arrival or departure for new challenges. It lives with people inside it. Like everyone else, a restaurant must change and grow to become better day by day.
Alessio Cristianini for TRENDYSTYLE HONG KONG
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo
Shop 202, Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong.
Lunch 12:00 – 14:30,
Dinner 18:30 – 22:30,
Bar opened from 12:00 noon until late
Closed on Sundays
For reservations and general enquiries:
Tel: +852 2537 8859 Fax: +852 2537 8895