Mo Bros: Great Casual Italian-American (8.0)

Another of El Grande’s restaurants, the brand which runs Grappa’s, this time tugged quietly beneath Elgin Street. A stony stairway starting from street level leads you down to their open dining area and you are forced to make the decision between sitting in Hong Kong’s warm and humid weather and the freezing indoor seating area. My suggestion: go for outdoors unless it’s summer, otherwise with air conditioning blasting at full speed your fresh-off-the-grill veal will turn cold in just a few minutes.

Complimentary house bread was a let-down, but the fresh tomato spread was nice. At least it gives you something to nibble on while waiting for your food to be served. The selection of appetizers is somewhat uninspired, but if desired, a variety of grilled veggies, deep-fried crab cakes and other seafood, chilled marinated dishes and salads are available and standard.

Its namesake pasta, the Mostaccioli, is a plain pasta with tomato sauce spooned over the top. Though simple, it is rich and tasty. The secret? A well-steeped olive oil capturing the flavors from basil and garlic. Alternatively, order a baked Mostaccioli pasta for a more satisfying combo of Italian sausage and a golden cheese crust. With a generous amount of olive oil, meaty pieces of cured sausage and fresh parmesan and bread crumbs sprinkled all over the pasta, this is surely everyone’s favorite comfort dish on any day.

For meaty dishes, their well-buttered grilled chicken and veal scalloppine al marsala are particularly memorable: tender and deep-flavored. Your choice to serve it with roasted potatoes and grilled veggies, or rocket salad.

Lunch menus are offered at a bargain but portions are slightly smaller than à la carte orders. They also serve brunches (of the English kind), at least on a Sunday. Prices are significantly less than at Grappa’s, and though service standards vary greatly they couldn’t possibly be worse than Grappa’s in Central!

Overall Mo Bros is an excellent choice for casual and affordable “Italian”, but for those looking for authentic fine dining, you’d have to look elsewhere.