Finding a good, hearty Italian meal can feel like a mission in our bustling city, but thankfully Wan Chai’s latest eatery, Pici Pasta Bar, is here to answer our prayers. Resident food blogger lolleroll swings by to sample a taste of Italy with the girls.
I was immediately sold by the description of Pici as a casual pasta bar tucked away in the streets of Wan Chai’s Star Street area. It seemed like the perfect spot to suggest trying for three girls catching up on a implicitly-agreed chilled out early Friday night.
Cozy, bustling vibes in a quiet corner
Tucked away deep into the quieter alleyways of Wan Chai, this small pasta establishment had curated lively vibes and charm on its own. In fact, given that this restaurant had only opened on 25 January and I was visiting on 3 February, I thought, surely we wouldn’t be able to get a seat (they don’t take reservations). Thankfully my friends arrived before me and grabbed the last three-person seat because when I got there just after 7pm, a few people were already waiting outside.
I found out about the Vitello Tonnato ($80) dish when I was dining at Cochin and absolutely fell in love with all the mesh of flavours, so when I saw it on the menu, I thought it was the one thing I must try. Unfortunately its taste was as disappointing as its presentation. The veal slices may have been cooked a bit too well, as it was dry in some parts. The mayonnaise mixture also tasted very mainstream.
Thankfully, this was the only disappointment of the night. We also got their Burrata Cheese ($95) which was good quality, straightforward, and a delicious refreshing start to our meal. The pasta took a frustratingly long to arrive, but we felt forgiving because it was an extremely new restaurant so we guessed they were probably still figuring out logistics. Plus, the rosemary scented bread was pretty good at keeping us accompanied while we waited.
We were excited to see Cacio e Pepe ($85) on the menu because it hasn’t been that common in the Italian restaurants I’ve visited in Hong Kong (although I’ve been seeing it more on menus recently). Cacio e pepe is a super simple black pepper and Parmesan cheese sauce. The sauce was a tad salty, but I suppose that’s also the essence of the dish, as it comes from the Italian-cheesiness. But the real highlight was the pici – a hand rolled pasta – which they had rolled to create an extremely al dente, chewy texture.
It was so difficult to pinpoint our favourite pasta dish of the night, but I think we all agreed that the oven baked Gnocchi Gratin ($90) is a must order! It was soft, cheesy, and simply satisfying – as you can imagine from the photo and description, it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser.
The Ravioli with Black Truffle and Asparagus ($160) was also a firm favourite, and unlike most of the cheesy and heavier mainstream ravioli dishes, I liked that this one was light and filled with asparagus. Overall, the sauce, filling, and black truffle flavours all worked very well together.
The menu at Pici in general is very straight-forward and simple (as are most aspects of the restaurant, actually). They only had two desserts on offer: Tiramisu and Raspberry Panna Cotta, both priced at $55. I personally preferred the silky, slippery, and smooth texture of the panna cotta, but I may be biased, because I love my own homemade tiramisu just a bit too much!
Casual, delicious, and value-for-money
Between the three of us, the bill came up to less than $250 per person. All the dishes were very reasonably priced and honestly I can’t remember the last time I had a good Italian meal (outside of Pizza Express) which cost less than $300. Food-wise, apart from the Vitello Tonnato, all the pastas we ordered were delicious and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending any of them.
We loved the casual un-intimidating vibes, which makes it the perfect spot for an easy weeknight dinner. The only downside is that there could be a wait, but if you don’t mind standing around and having a drink, then why not?
Pici, G/F, 16 St Francis Yard, Wan Chai, (+852) 2755 5523