Cover Casa Cucina opens up entirely onto the street (Photo: Michael Perini)

Former Amber chef Anthony Cheung plies his pasta craft from this homely, three-floored restaurant space

Taking over a three-floor space in Sai Ying Pun that rubs shoulders with Test Kitchen, Casa Cucina & Bar has opened its doors to the neighbourhood. The restaurant focuses on dependable Italian classics and hearty, freshly made pasta, and styles itself in the Venetian tradition of cicchetti, which are served as small dishes similar to Spanish tapas. Helming the kitchen is executive chef and co-founder Anthony Cheung, a graduate of New York's International Culinary Center who most recently spent a four-year stint at Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental working with the likes of Richard Ekkebus and Matthew Kirkley.

The 66-seat restaurant is blessed with great bones. Set within an airy, light-filled venue, the space opens up completely onto the street, with a feature bar helming one end and an open kitchen bringing up the rear of the mezzanine floor. On the top floor is a private dining space and a lounge area perfect for more intimate gatherings and people-watching. Awash in Mediterranean pastel tones along with rattan furniture and leather upholstery, the space was conceived by interior designer Ketty Shan to evoke the atmosphere of a home.

Taking advantage of the all-day potential of the space, the menu at Casa is centred around approachable, moreish small dishes—highlights include the Hokkaido scallop carpaccio with pineapple, yuzu and ogonori algae, clams in a white wine and smoked paprika cream, and the indulgent burrata with semi-dried Datterino tomatoes.

See also: Neighbourhood Guide: Where To Eat, Drink And Shop In Sai Ying Pun

The pastas, meanwhile, are all made fresh and in-house, bringing a palpable springiness to each bite; the duck ragu pappardelle with double-seared duck breast and chicken liver, and braised oxtail ravioli in cacio e pepe sauce are of particular note. Bringing up the rest of the menu are the meat-centric sharing mains—among others, the chicken parmigiana successfully strikes a delicate balance between a crispy, buttermilk-fried exterior and succulent interior; while the slow-cooked calamari features a whole squid stuffed with puntalette pasta, crab meat and sea urchin and drizzled in a squid ink sauce. Not to be missed is the tofu fa-inspired panna cotta dessert, which incorporates a hit of soy sauce for a unique interplay between sweet and savoury, East and West.

See also: The Rising Stars Of Hong Kong's Dining Scene And What They're Doing Now

Day drinkers will feel at home at Casa, which offers a happy hour that lasts from 3pm to 8pm daily, starting from HK$40. Outside of happy hour, diners can partake in a full range of classic and house cocktails such as the tequila-based Bloody Mary Martini, and the rum-based Pandan Manhattan.

Casa Cucina & Bar, Shop 8 & 9, 158A Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2887 9666, casacucina.hk