Amalfi reconstructed

By Rebecca Lo ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-16 11:28:00

Amalfi reconstructed

Chef Pino Lavarra is from the Puglia region in southern Italy. Provided to China Daily

Chef Pino Lavarra is the first to admit that his dishes don't look Italian. Rebecca Lo discovers that the Tosca chef's award-winning cuisine contains much more than meets the eye.

Amalfi reconstructed

Rustic French dining right at home in NOHO 

Amalfi reconstructed

Old-style feel-good eatery 

I am a sucker for mile-high dining. I don't mean airplane food; on the contrary, the Michelin-starred dishes at Tosca are light-years away from any inflight menu. I'm referring to the panoramic views that Tosca commands from the 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

On a clear day, we can see beyond Victoria Peak on the other side of the harbor. It is no wonder that tables along the full-height windows get booked up quickly, even if the restaurant is entirely enveloped in a gray cloud most of the time.

Of course, the view is only one part of a destination dining experience. The contemporary restaurant with two-story-high ceilings takes up one entire side of the 102nd floor: You get there via an escalator that descends from the hotel's lobby above. Stacks of green glass form a lily pad-like sculpture in a water feature, while chefs behind a marble-clad open kitchen deftly produce masterpieces of edible art.

One of these chefs is Tosca's director Pino Lavarra. Less than a year after he joined last April, the restaurant has already won a Michelin star.

He hails from the Puglia region in southern Italy, though he now makes his home in adjacent Amalfi where his wife Maria Luisa comes from.

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