I was immediately sold by the description of Pici as a casual pasta bar tucked behind the small streets in the Star Street area of Wan Chai. 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 would be able to get a seat (they don’t take reservations). Thankfully my friends arrived at 6:55pm and grabbed the last three-person seat because when I got there at 7:03pm, a few people were waiting outside already.
Vitello Tonnato – HK$80
I found out about this dish when I was dining at Cochin and absolutely fell in love with all the mesh of flavours. 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.
Burrata cheese – HK$95
Thankfully the vitello tonnato was the only disappointment of the night. We also got their burrata which was good quality, straight forward and a delicious refreshing start to our meal.
The pasta took 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.
Pici Cacio e Pepe – HK$85 *must order*
We were excited to see cacio e pepe 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.
Oven baked gnocchi gratin – HK$90 *must order*
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 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.
Ravioli with black truffle and asparagus – HK$160
When we were discussing which were our favourite dishes, the ravioli was my initial response. Unlike most of the cheesy and heavier mainstream ravioli dishes, I liked that this one was light – it was filled with asparagus. Overall, the sauce, filling and black truffle flavours all worked very well together.
The menu in general is very straight forward and simple (as is most aspects of Pici, actually). They only had two desserts on offer: Tiramisu and Raspberry Panna Cotta, both priced at HK$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 (recipe here).
Casual, delicious and value-for-money
Between the three of us, the bill came up to less than HK$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 HK$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?
If not… My other favourite Italian restaurants include Giando and these 5 Italian Restaurants in Hong Kong that Do Stand Out.
16 St Francis Yard
Spend per person: HK$250