It seemed like every foodie friend I knew had already been to Pici, so I felt late to the party when I finally arrived at their hidden St Francis Yard location (look for the Monocle shop on the corner). Launched a few months ago by Pirata Group, the restaurant has become widely known for serving up fresh pasta with an affordable price tag at a chic location – something that’s increasingly hard to find in Hong Kong.
I arrived 15 minutes before Pici opened at 12pm, and the sauce and fresh bread smells coming out of the restaurant were incredible. While I was the first person there, a group of ten or so had joined me in line before the restaurant even opened. Once the clock hit noon, my friend and I were seated in one of the two pairs of seats facing the window. I think these are the best seats in the house; they make the crowded restaurant feel more private. It’s also great fun to watch what’s going on in the neighbourhood Vogue called Hong Kong’s most global neighbourhood.
We opted for Pici’s just launched weekend brunch, which looked like an Italian comfort food feast: a meat and cheese platter, meatballs, three pastas, tiramisu, panna cotta and a glass of Prosecco for $280/person.
Chef Viglione’s cold cuts
We like the way Chef Andrea Viglione thinks! The first plate out (besides the fresh bread) was this sweet little platter of Parma ham and Parmesan cheese, tasty nibbles to whet our appetite for what was to come. We loved the rustic presentation, simple folds of ham and chunks of cheese.
The pork and beef mixture was nice and juicy without being oily. The sweetish marinara-like tomato sauce nicely complemented the meatballs.
Even in the heat of summer, I’ll always be open to eating some comforting lasagne if it’s good. Pici’s version is not heavily seasoned, which allows the ingredients to shine. The fresh sheets of egg-y noodles had a wonderful texture – thicker, with a good bite. With fresh mozzarella, chunky minced beef and béchamel sauce, this dish was worth the calories.
Again, Pici’s fresh tagliatelle had a wonderful bite. The thick ribbons held onto the spicy, creamy sauce. This dish was saltier than the lasagne with the addition of spicy ‘nduja sausage, and we liked the bitterness added by the rocket.
Egg heart girasole
For those who always crave a runny egg yolk at brunch, Pici can meet that request. A girasole is a sunflower-shaped pasta, and in this case, the large discs were filled with a gooey egg yolk and creamy ricotta cheese. With a brown butter, walnut and thyme sauce, this pasta was the richest and sweetest of the three. It’s a lovely dish, though we were so full at this point that we could barely eat more than a few bites.
Our meal ended with two of Italy’s best-known sweets.
The panna cotta was super smooth and wobbly, light and milky, served with a raspberry sauce. The tiramisu was sweet and creamy, not too dark or bitter. We really enjoyed the thick, coffee-infused custard.
Pici also do a great espresso, perfect to pair with the desserts and round off a hearty meal.
Pici is a cool, casual spot with great service and food. I’d recommend it to all, for all: to friends and families, to locals or expats, for catch-ups or dates. On the Sunday we went, we saw all these groups happily queuing up to try the restaurant’s awesome pasta.
Go early to beat the crowd, as the restaurant does get packed quickly. That said, the wonderful staff make sure no one gets hangry by handing out small plates of Parma ham and Parmesan cheese to those in line. And it’s also a great choice for late risers, with brunch running until 5:30pm.
It might be an unusual or at least carb-ier-than-usual choice for brunch, but the new brunch menu is a worthwhile indulgence and a good way to sample a variety of Pici’s best dishes.
16 St Francis Yard, Wanchai, 2755 5523
This post also appears on jenniexplores.com