17 May 2024 By May Ng

Sophia Loren Hong Kong Debuts Its Stylish Signature Restaurant – Casa Sophia Loren

Casa Sophia Loren, paying tribute to the legendary Italian actress, takes pride of place on the first floor of the historic Woo Cheong Pawn Shop in Wan Chai, now glamorously reawakened as Sophia Loren Hong Kong

Wan Chai’s beloved Woo Cheong Pawn Shop, newly transformed as the four-storey Sophia Loren Hong Kong, is celebrating the opening of its highly anticipated and stylish signature restaurant, Casa Sophia Loren from April 29th.

The historic veranda-façade landmark overlooking Johnston Road tramway is launching a new era paying homage to the fun-loving “dolce vita” of 1960s Rome immortalised by film director Federico Fellini, and Casa Sophia Loren will be its culinary highlight.

Located on the first floor with its airy street-side terrace – the former home of British restaurant The Pawn – the glamorous Casa Sophia Loren’s sophisticated Italian seafood menu pays homage to classic Neapolitan cuisine, beloved by Naples natives Sophia Loren and entrepreneur-politician Luciano Cimmino, who founded the restaurant brand with her collaboration.

Diners can choose to ascend a theatrically lit mirrored stairway from the ground floor entrance next to the more casual and boldly-coloured street level Sophia Loren Pizzeria, or take the elevator at the side of the building to enter the cosy but elegant blue and white dining room. They may choose to dine here, or outside on the expansive al fresco Italian-style terrazzo, or perhaps at the cosy seafood counter to watch the chefs prepare the latest catch.

The elegant blue, white and cream design by award-winning Italian MAG Design Studio, including stunning vibrant blue Murano glass chandeliers, evokes the deep blue seas of the Mediterranean, in keeping with the accent on high quality Italian seafood. Blue is also the favourite colour of the legendary actress.

Calamarata pasta with cuttlefish, Romanesco broccoli and anchovies sauce, taralli crumble

Generous platters of raw seafood delicacies are the headline dishes of the restaurant, showcasing the latest in-season premium catches from Italy, including Plateau Sophia Loren with red prawns, scampi, amberjack carpaccio and oysters ($888) and the even more lavish Deluxe Seafood Platter ($1188).

Heading up the kitchen is Valentino Ugolini, former head chef of Ciak at Landmark. His stylish appetisers include signature scampi tartare with foie grass (HK$298); scallops in cauliflower cream with Jerusalem artichoke chips and sea urchin (HK$268), red prawn carpaccio (HK$328) with osetra caviar, burrata, orange dressing and puntarelle salad; and Amberjack carpaccio and seaweed caviar (HK$288).

Homemade fresh and artisanal pasta specialties include traditional spaghetti with clams and roasted cherry tomatoes (HK$298); along with Risone pasta with mixed seafood, smoked salmon roe and Sorrento lemon zest (HK$328); Burrata ravioli with eggplant cream (HK$238); Calamarata pasta with cuttlefish and anchovy sauce (HK$248); and fettuccine with sweetbreads, porcini mushrooms and veal jus (HK$268).

Signature main courses are Milanese-style Amberjack with roasted artichokes (HK$328); duck leg confit in raspberry sauce (HK$298); and charcoal-grilled combo of M7 sirloin and braised short rib, with mashed potato and baby broccoli (HK$488).

Scampi tartare, foie gras, Moscato reduction & red endive

An instagrammable mixed surf-and-turf charcoal grill styled for groups to share offers US tomahawk 1.5kg (HK$2,180) and US rib eye cap. 1kg (HK$1,980), along with Italian ombrina and turbot fish at market price – plus various side dishes (HK$78-98) including fries, and baby broccoli, portobello mushroom and baby asparagus.

Desserts (HK$78-108) include tiramisu, “Godurioso” caramel chocolate cake, chocolate rum baba and sorbet of the month.

Hong Kong’s Sophia Loren Hong Kong marks the first international footprint of the Sophia Loren Restaurant brand(sophialorenrestaurant.com) inaugurated by the namesake actress in collaboration with Neapolitan entrepreneur and politician Luciano Cimmino in Florence in 2021. The brand has since expanded to Milan, Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, and the southern Italian port of Bari.

Nicola Giglio, main partner of both the Hong Kong expansion and global brand, says: “We’re thrilled to bring this ambitious multi-concept project to life with culinary excellence meeting the art of living well in one of Hong Kong’s most beloved historical landmarks.”

“Creating an unparalleled ‘one stop’ dining and entertainment destination offering unique atmospheres and experiences on each floor caters to a wide array of tastes and preferences – and aligns perfectly with the timeless appeal of Sophia Loren, an emblem of elegance, grace, and sophistication.”

Sophia Loren, a passionate foodie, says: “No director has ever managed to put me on a diet – and hours I spent in the kitchen were among the happiest of my life.

“When asked to open restaurants in my honour, I happily consented to this wonderful adventure.  I’m proud to be part of a talented Neapolitan team exporting the “veracity” of Neapolitan cuisine to the world.”

Executive Chef Valentino Ugolini