A haven of calm in CWB, Shelter offers organic Italian food in a stunning al fresco setting
Proper Italian food is a rare enough treat in Hong Kong. For years, we had to make do with either the over-starched tablecloths of five-star hotels or the lukewarm charms of Fat Angelo’s. Of course, in recent years simple affordable Italian cuisine has been making inroads, and perhaps that has something to do with the groundswell of interest in sourcing the right ingredients. It’s probably no overstatement to claim that, of all world cuisines, Italian food demands the most of its ingredients. I remember the first time I travelled to Naples and discovered tomatoes that were so sweet I finally understood the old science class puzzler that said tomatoes were fruit not (insipid, watery) vegetables.
Shelter is a new Italian restaurant that’s overseen by Executive Chef Simonetta Garelli. Her love of food stems from her childhood. “It’s probably true to say I come from the part of Italy that has the best food.” She’s from Modena in Emilia-Romagna, famed throughout the country for being the heartland of food. Tourists may flock in droves to Tuscany, but true connoisseurs head to Emilia-Romagna. It is, after all, the home of Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, even balsamic vinegar (from Modena, naturally).
“When I came up with the menu, I thought constantly of the food I enjoyed as a child. On Sunday, all the family would get together and we’d always have roast chicken. I still remember the smells that came from the kitchen in the mornings. That’s the sort of food I want to create for my guests,” says Garelli. But that’s not all. Shelter, as the name suggests, is a haven for people who care about their food. As much as possible is organic and the restaurant even has an organic garden where certain items on the menu are grown. It might seem like just another fad, but Garelli is the lynchpin that holds the concept together.
An obsessive about the pesticides and contaminants that these days enter our food chain, Garelli strives to ensure that all produce at Shelter is as ‘clean’ as possible. “We’re so polluted internally from the food that we eat. That’s why I try to ensure everything at Shelter is sourced from producers that I trust.” Perhaps it goes back to her roots in Italy, where even today farmer’s markets are the norm, not the exception. And at the very least, Garelli knows how her tomatoes, her chicken and her seafood should taste. It’s certainly a lesson we could all learn, and perhaps a meal on Shelter’s stunning outdoor terrace will be the start of a new way of living.
Shelter Italian Bar & Restaurant
Address: Shop No. 718-719, 7/F, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay
Phone: +852 2778 8398