It’s not too often that I’ll start a post about a restaurant by raving about another; but here goes.
I absolutely adore Pici in Wanchai; it’s without doubt my favourite casual diner at the moment.
But I will probably never go back.
Why would I now that I’ve discovered Pirata, the other Wanchai restaurant by the group of the same name?
Let me tell you a secret; if you’ve tried to get into Pici before and had to queue and wait for their delicious take on pasta, then you need wait no more. Not only does Pirate have mostly the same menu, there’s a larger range of sensational options to boot!
But best of all; the thing that has meant that I’ll never go back to Pici?
You can reserve electronically and avoid those nasty queues in the heat of a Hong Kong summer…
Located on Hennesey Road in Wanchai, actually in the same building as the group’s other winning Spanish spot The Optimist (see post here), there are sensational views to be had from the 30th floor. Unfortunately for the girl and I, we’d scored the worst table in the joint on our visit; possibly due to making our reservation so late in the day.
Never mind, ’cause it’s all about the food.
As I mentioned, the menu at Pirata is pretty similar to Pici, but where Pici has a very light pasta only menu, Pirata has a section of their menu dedicated to more traditional main courses; although all designed to share, just like the rest of the menu. We ignored this section of the menu for our first visit, and focussed on the pasta and starters selections.
While we waited for our starters to arrive, one of the wait staff wandered over with olive oil and balsamic vinegar in each hand; and proceeded to pour into little bowls at our side. I stopped her just in time from ruining my oil with the vinegar, having a strong preference to let the peppery oil be the sole addition to my fresh crusty bread. Which uncoincidentally was next to appear at our table, was quickly devoured and then just as quickly replaced!
Our first starter arrived in a casserole pot and once the lid was lifted, three juicy meatballs appeared. We’d ordered the M.M.M or My Mothers Meatballs, a mix of pork and beef meatballs perfectly cooked and sitting in a generous amount of cherry tomato sauce. I actually found the meatballs to be slightly nicer than the Pici version; they were succulent and tasty, the tomato sauce and protein a perfect match.
Next up was the beef carpaccio, a huge plate filled with thinly sliced beef, covered with plenty of rocket, shaved parmesan cheese and cherry tomato slices. While the beef was super tasty, sweet and full flavoured, I did find the beef to be slightly on the thick side, and therefore a little tougher to cut through. Combined with a drizzle of olive oil, the whole dish was completely satisfying; but would have been even better if the beef just fell apart.
It took ages for our pasta mains to arrive; perhaps because we were quite early? Anyway, when they arrived, they were well worth the wait…
First up was our favourite Pici pasta, the orecchiette with sausage and n’duja and cherry tomato. On first inspection, the dish looked identical to it’s little brother, but there were some subtle differences; there was a little more heat in the sauce, so a touch more chilli, and maybe a little less of that yummy Italian sausage. The girl and I debated the differences for a while, but in reality, it was the same dish, just with ‘batch’ differences.
It was delicious!
As was our second pasta, the tagliatelle with black truffle, which confusingly was covered with shaved white truffle; not that I was complaining mind you, it was an equally stunning plate of pasta. Al dente tagliatelle mixed with a light creamy sauce and covered with a heap of truffle. The aroma was divine with a flavour to match, I really loved the umami hit from the truffle. We both agreed it was a super dish, simple as only Italian can be, and all the better for it.
With only a couple of starters and mains to share, we were stuffed (possibly due to filling up on bread), so we declined the offer of dessert.
We live right in the middle of Pici and Pirata, so it takes the exact same time to get to one over the other. The food was comparable (totally yummo) and the menus practically the same, with more options at Pirata.
So in reality, it’s a no brainer for this little foodie! If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that waiting is a pet hate of mine. So reservations win every time!
Sooo, as great and enjoyable as Pici has been for us; sorry, you’ve been usurped by your big brother.
But on the plus side, you’re all in it together, right?
*** The Pirata group run Pici, Pirata and the Optimist – three of my favourite casual dining spots in Wanchai