Look out, Macau chefs, there’s a new kid on the chopping block! For years, the city has been famed for its restaurants serving both Portuguese and Macanese fare, but recently they’ve had to start contending with Italian cuisine.
And the latest arrival – 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, which comes with a quiver-full of Michelin stars from its other establishments around the world – has upped the (very tasty) game considerably.
By way of explanation: Italian food is a natural choice for Chinese who may be less than familiar with foreign food. Pasta and noodles are not-so distant cousins, and for Chinese the idea of a big family get-together with everyone sharing different dishes is a no-brainer.
Everybody’s talking about 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, which enjoys a superior location in the Galaxy Resort on Taipa. Naturally, the décor and service are beyond reproach, and the personality and passion of chef Umberto Bombana shine through every dish, but it’s important to concentrate on the food. The degustation menu is a good starting point, with seared red tuna, scampi, a Neapolitan ragout, rack of lamb, and a veal tenderloin topped off with a mixed berry compote, all for MOP1,380 (US$173) per tummy. Add MOP600 for wine pairing – it’s more than worth it. All in all, Otto e Mezzo does a superb job of striking just the right blend between tradition and innovation.
While many of the best Italian restaurants are attached to a hotel or a resort, that’s not always the case. Tucked neatly around the corner from the MGM casino in an otherwise unassuming avenue, Antica Trattoria leaves the “bells and whistles” to others and simply concentrates on serving traditional Italian food. The pizzas are excellent, and it’s a statutory offence to attempt to leave without nibbling at least one profiterole. Busy at the weekends, quieter during the week, Antica is somewhere for a long leisurely meal with a taste of Macau in days gone by. The Grand Prix photos that line the stairs leading to the entrance add a pleasant soupcon of nostalgia.
It’s called Bene, which means “fine” in Italian – but that’s a triumph of understatement. Part of the Sheraton resort complex on the Cotai Strip, Bene lays on not just superb Italian cuisine, but does so with a fair bit of showmanship. Several dishes are prepared tableside with more than a few flourishes – spaghetti carbonara, tomahawk beef, salt-crusted sea bass – and the aroma from the wood-fired pizza oven is not so much mouth-watering as flooding. “Pizza by the Metre” is one of the more popular options. And naturally, there’s an excellent wine list to complement the ultra Italian food.
Steve Wynn’s Macau resort has been compared to a circus – witness the spectacular show at the fountain by the grand entrance – and the high jinks continue inside. Ristorante Il Teatro teeters at the uppermost end of the gourmet dining scale, and the dishes – with a particular emphasis on Southern Italian – are as sumptuous as the surrounds. The open kitchen is an inspiration, window seats provide some of Macau’s very best metropolitan panoramas, and – for a very intimate meal – there are also two private dining rooms. Reservations are pretty much essential, and dressing smartly even more so.
In Southern Italy, Don Alfonso is a name to conjure with, and in Macau – at the venerable Grand Lisboa resort – the magic continues in more ways than one. Don Alfonso 1890 is recognised throughout the city as the wine-lovers’ Italian restaurant. The cellar contains more than 15,000 labels, with Italy well represented, as are both Old and New Worlds. The sommeliers are knowledgeable, patient, and experts at imaginative pairing.
It’s no surprise that you’re going to find an Italian restaurant at The Venetian, the Macau resort that’s so closely modelled on Venice there are even gondoliers punting their way along canals. Vergnano is right next to the replica of St Mark’s Square in the heart of the resort, so it’s always pretty busy but it enjoys a buzzing atmosphere. The staff are friendly, and there’s a vast range of Italian favourites to choose from, which are always stylishly presented.
Anyone with a minor interest in anthropology might just notice that many restaurants in Macau are staffed by Filipinos; they’re courteous, helpful and great foodies – so it’s a great match. Drop by La Cucina Italiana for Italian food pure and simple, at very reasonable prices, neatly situated on the edge of Taipa village.
Shelter is not just a restaurant, it’s a restaurant with a bar. And a really good one, too. In addition to regular Italian staples, expect an extensive Italian wine list, as well as themed cocktails, and a very lively atmosphere, especially on the regular Ladies’ Nights. Shelter is part of the City of Dreams SoHo entertainment strip, so there’s always plenty of action going on.
If you’re looking for more places to dine in Macao, book a table at one of these fine dining establishments.
Taste the flavours of Macao with this Portuguese egg tart recipe.
Lord Stow’s Bakery has become the place to try egg tarts. So when in Macao, head to the Lords Bakery:
Taste the flavours of Macao and bookmark our guide to Macau restaurants.
Here’s a recipe by Chef Alex Gasper from La Chine restaurant at The Parisian Macao.
We have a great post about where to eat Macanese food.