Pici is pronounced ´peachy´and pretty much lives up to its name. It´s from the Pirata Group, home to previous places in Wan Chai I´ve written up including Pirata (duh) and The Optimist. Both were nice ways to spend an evening, but neither especially set my world on fire and I haven´t returned since. Pici, also in Wan Chai, is their first that I´ll happily head back to – time and again.
It´s on little Francis Street, near the Monocle shop for all you Tyler fans. Big it ain´t, but neither was it as small as I´d been led to believe. It´s cosy but works because it has atmosphere, in addition to some excellent – and excellent value – plates. Its size means it can fill up quickly, especially as they don´t take reservations, but at 6p we easily secured a table and things didn´t get properly nuts-to-butts busy until 8ish. There are seats at the bar too that give you a view of the pasta making action.
That´s the schtick here. Do the simple things well, which means four chefs come in every morning to make all the pasta fresh daily for their one-page menu. Ah the joys of a one-page menu. Making fresh pasta makes a massive difference, but the care extends across the board too, first of which (honk!) carried real-deal prosciutto and nuggets of parmigiano. Yours for an incredibly-fair $70, part of a pricing structure which endears me to Pici even further.
As do their carafes of very quaffable Montepulciano at $220. Another tick. In fact price wise the three amigos went for the tasting menu at $280 per person which resulted in huge amounts of food for the price, essentially up to 3 starters and 3 pastas per person. Another huge tick. That included a very good rendition of the always-odd but always-delicious classic vitello tonnato, veal with tuna, mayonnaise and capers.
Helped by hot fresh bread which kept coming.
Another starter were the excellent meatballs, just like my grandmother made, or would have if she was from Sicily and not Tipperary. Generous, good quality ground meats, classic red sauce and lots more grated Parmesan. In fact grated parmesan covered everything so generously, I almost expected the tiramisu to come covered in it. That also explains why all my photos look the same.
Liquid parmesan ravioli was the only non-classic, but the invention passed the test with flying colours, toasty little explosions of umami like xiao long bao from Parma.
Pappardelle was also an exemplary version, the slow-cooked ragu made with love and lots of care in addition to beef cheek, carrots, onions and the rest. In common with every dish, the pasta cook was slightly tweaked depending on the needs of the flavours that lifted it.
We had others too, including the best-named pasta going, orecchiette or ´little ears´:
To finish, it could only be a faultless tiramisu. No unnecessary grappa, coconut, raspberry coulis or other monstrous ideas I´ve seen desecrate an Italian classic. We were more than replete before the panna cotta that we still ordered because, well, we could as part of the generous tasting menu deal.
Talking of generous, there´s no service charge so over-tip the super-friendly, mostly Filipino service team. I´ll be back to Pici for their cacio e pepe, the true Roman classic (well, alongside carbonara, alla gricia and all´Amatriciana), while their lasagne is seemingly stonking too. Below the laughable bill for an excellent evening of food and wine. Forza!
Incidentally they´re opening another Pici in Central and also have a new spot imaginatively titled ´Meats´ where Jaspars used to be on Staunton Street. Here´s hoping they keep it simple there too.