Pici is a newly opened Italian pasta bar in Wanchai. Casual and convivial, the charming little restaurant specialises in serving simple, comforting pasta, which they hand-make daily. The restaurant is the newest brainchild of the Pirata group that brought us The Optimist (Spanish food), Pirata (Italian fare) and more recently, Tokyolima (Japanese-Peruvian cuisine).
The down-to-earth restaurant boasts two floors, with semi-al fresco seating and a small bar on the ground floor (with a white stone marble counter FYI!) and larger tables on the upper floor.
Given its modest seating, it's best to go early as soon as it opens or be prepared to wait over an hour for a dinner table like we did, as Pici does not take reservations. If you’re feeling peckish during the wait (we were famished), you can order a drink (hello bubbles) with which you are served a small plate of cured meats and bread to keep the hunger at bay.
The first dish to arrive was the homemade meatballs. Tender and moist, the meatballs paired well with the flavourful tomato sauce and parmesan shavings.
Pici's pasta mains are made for sharing. We were advised the most popular dishes are the ear-shaped orecchiette with spicy Italian sausage, the tagliolini with shaved black truffle and white truffle paste, and the Pici amatriciana, although that was sold out that night. We opted for a tagliatelle with porcini instead.
Before I move on to reviewing the main dishes, let me just get this out there.
The truffle tagliolini was nutty and earthy, complementing the light sprinkle of cheese and butter sauce well. I was once told that chefs avoid adding too much salt to truffled dishes so as to not overpower the truffle - they want the delicate aromas and flavours of the ingredient take the spotlight. So although I found this dish leaning towards bland side, I can appreciate this is what Pici's chefs attempted to achieve.
The ear-shaped orecchiette paired nicely with the tomato-based sauce, which had a hint of smokiness and spice from the Italian n'duja sausage. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish.
Surprisingly, our favourite of the night was the porcini mushroom tagliatelle. The sauce was bursting with umami flavour and the tagliatelle was wonderful. I can't emphasise this more, but please order this.
To end the meal, we ordered all the desserts options - Italian classics panna cotta and tiramisu.
The panna cotta was nice but the consistency was a little watery. I would've liked to see the dessert a bit thicker and creamier. The tiramisu was very well executed and was not overly sweet, creamy or heavy - they struck just the right balance.
I like that Pici automatically divides the bill up between all the diners on the receipt for you. Overall, our very filling meal came down to about $200-250 per person, which is a very good deal given the quantity and quality of food.
Verdict: it’s so difficult to find a place in Hong Kong that doesn’t overcook pasta, so when you’ve found a gem like Pici that cooks everything perfectly al dente, doesn’t it make your heart sing? Is it worth a one hour wait? Hell yes.
Tips and recommendations
- Suitable for: casual lunches and dinners. Not suitable for large groups.
- Order: orecchiette, porcini tagliatelle, tiramisu, prosecco.
- Tips: try to go in small groups (less than 6?) as it probably makes it easier to get a table. Go during the day to see the charming architecture and interior design in all its glory - the muted grey facade, the intricate patterned tiling on the stairs, the ceiling lights and pot plants. Take some time to stroll around the St Francis' Yard neighbourhood, for there are a number of quaint lifestyle boutiques like Monocle and other vintage stores waiting for you to explore.