Pardon the Punctuation...Call me crazy but the last thing I think about when I'm in San Diego is great Italian food. From now on it will be one of the first things that comes to mind. Hidden amongst a slew of fish taco places and cheesy bars sits Bice Restaurant. This is a chic upscale Italian restaurant that doesn't break the wallet. Also being someone who's been to Italy it's a great feeling when you go into an Italian restaurant on this side of the pond and there are so many Italians working there. Upon walking in we were greeted by Filippo Reitano the charming maitre'D who took great care of us and sat us at a table in their gorgeous dining room. Oh and By the way I love their wine cellar which is visible from the dining room and is like a window into wine heaven. Anyway, our server Filippo...another Filippo..not the same gentleman who sat us down...had some wonderful suggestions from the menu. He told me about their award winning cheese bar and that he'd bring some selections from it along with two different prosciuttos. Since he's from Florence I trusted his judgement. Here is how it all went down. Started with a glass of the house Barbaresco which was a delicious heavy pour. Food went like this.
Prosciutto duel with Parma vs San Daniele: a wonderful combination of two of the greatest cured meats in the world duking it out for champion of your palate. I'm a sucker for prosciutto from Parma but this San Daniele was a nice contrast in flavor. Shaved perfectly and draped on the plate like tender silk scarves.
1.Burrata-Creamy cow's milk cheese that to die for. A hint of nuttyness and served on a delectable crostini.
2.Rosso di Langa- made from cow and sheeps milk. It was almost like a milder brie. Similar in texture but easier to down in mass quantities.
3.Cacio di Bosco- I love this firm sheep's milk cheese because the truffle flavor is not synthetic. Sweet, nutty, and peppered with little chunks of truffle. This cheese is going to be on my list to Santa next Christmas.
4.Fiore Sardo- similar to it's brother Pecorino Romano this sheep's milk cheese is richer while less overpowering.
5.Brunet-This young creamy goat's milk cheese is only aged 3-5 weeks but tastes like a vintage cheese. Would go perfectly with a glass of prosecco.
This is by far the best cheese bar in San Diego!
Grilled Octopus: with baby fennel, arugula, and artichoke salad. Octopus is one of the things that I always order when it's on a menu. This octopus was so good I could close my eyes and picture myself sitting at a cafe in Cinque Terre taking in the ocean view. The fennel wasn't too much and complimented the octopus perfectly. A dish that can refresh the palate before the main course.
Gnocchi: With pine nuts and asiago cheese in a pesto sauce. I can be kind of a snob when it comes to my favorite pasta dish. Having worked at the best Italian restaurant in Miami in my teens I can sniff out crappy gnocchi like a hound sniffs out a suitcase full of drugs. This dish on the other hand could be displayed at the louvre. Pasta art and perfection. Could have had 6 plates of it.
Pan Seared "Mano De Leon" Sea Scallops: With crispy vegetable strings, saffron sauce, and squid ink dressing. Perfectly seared and once mixed with the squid ink would turned into a little piece of heaven in my mouth.
Branzino: Fresh "Mediterranean Sea Bass, Cooked on a Cedar Wood Plank and Finished with Grape Tomatoes and a Fresh Herb Truffle Emulsion. Served with Caponata." I literally just copied and pasted the description from the Bice website. The description says it all. They even cheat by spraying a mist of truffle oil on it. Wow wow wow I'm tasting it now as I type. It would be my go to dish every time Bice was on my agenda.
Panna Cotta: Coconut panna cotta with balsamic strawberry sauce. Great texture and the balsamic strawberry sauce should be illegal it's so good. Could be poured excessively over pancakes.
Next time you're in the Gas Lamp district make sure to check Bice Restaurant out. Even if you just swing by for a glass of wine and some cheeses at the bar before a Padres game. Ask for Filippo and he will know exactly what to recommend to accommodate your tasty needs.