Cover André Fu's design for Estro evokes Neapolitan salottos (Photo: Estro)

Working closely with Yenn Wong, the Italian chef’s first solo restaurant follows shortly after a months-long pop-up at Tatler Dining Kitchen

Having helmed the inaugural chapter at Tatler Dining Kitchen from March to mid-May, Italian chef Antimo Maria Merone has opened Estro, his first solo restaurant in collaboration with Yenn Wong of Jia Group. Taking its name from the Italian word for 'inspiration', Estro is can be found just one floor below Duddell's in a space designed by André Fu to be reflective of a Neapolitan luxury salotto (drawing room).

Arriving in Hong Kong in 2012 to work alongside chef Philippe Leveille of the highly regarded L’Altro, Merone moved to Macau in 2014 to open 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Macau with Umberto Bombana. After a six-year stint in which he led the restaurant to its first Michelin star, Merone returned to Hong Kong amid the pandemic last year to develop the concept for Estro.

While Merone's creations at Tatler Dining Kitchen explored the intersection of Italian cooking with both Chinese and Japanese cuisines, his launch menu at Estro is unapologetically Italian—specifically, an ode to his hometown of Napoli and its storied local flavours. 

See also: A Taste Of Home: Restaurateur Yenn Wong’s Top Spots For The Local Singaporean Fare She Loves

Recalling summers spent on his family's farm, Merone's Tomato Homage appetiser places the humble fruit front and centre by poaching, gently drying and rehydrating ripened tomato skins, which are then served alongside a tomato-shaped salted cod dipped in a naturally sour sauce. Clarified tomato water made using four different varieties of Italian tomatoes rounds out the dish.

Meanwhile, the ruins of Pompeii come together with the long history and rich terroir of Italy in Pigeon Under Ashes. Regarded as a delicacy by the Romans, the pigeon is elevated at Estro through a technique that involves wrapping it in burnt artichoke buds and fig leaves, then encasing it in clay, and finally, cooking it in black ash in a sly nod to the destructive Mount Vesuvius. The bird is served with an artichoke cooked in its own ashes, and a sauce made using Piedirosso wine from Italy’s Campania region.

Neapolitan classics are also reinvented under Merone's eye: parmigiana is served as half-spheres covered with a thin outer layer of homemade pasta, while Neapolitan Genovese pasta features a ragu of beef and 12-hour Montoro onions with eliche pasta.

At Estro, Merone will present tasting menu options for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Reservations are now available online here.

Estro, 2/F, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong;

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