Simple, homemade pasta in a down-to-earth environment is the best way to describe Pici, the fourth venture from Pirata Group. A culmination of founders Christian Talpo and Manuel Palacio’s experience and knowledge to date, Pici has grown effortlessly since its quiet entrance into the Hong Kong scene. Today Pici is much-loved destination, with a steady flow of customers spurred by the promise of fresh pasta made with love and care.
The cosy shop feels as much at home on Wan Chai’s St. Francis Yard as it would be in a small town in southern Italy, nestled alongside boutique stores that make up the charming neighbourhood. One of the first cheery faces you’ll encounter is the talented Head Chef, Andrea Viglione, who is there most days buzzing about the counter, apron dusted in flour and rolling pin in hand.
An Italian native, Andrea grew up in an environment where food was the cornerstone of the family. He started cooking professionally at the age of 16, focusing on cuisine from the Piedmont region. After opening his own restaurant in Turin, Italy, his taste for adventure brought him – and his mastery of fresh pasta making – to Hong Kong.
For a front-row view of the action, take a seat at the marble-topped counter where you can watch Andrea and the team at work, dusting, flouring, folding, rolling and kneading out the pasta dough. The dough itself is a work of art – a sheet as supple and smooth as silk before it’s cut into flat ribbons, ruffle-edged ravioli, or cylindrical spaghetti-like strands.
The latter is the restaurant’s namesake, a thick and chewy handmade pasta born in Tuscany. Every morning, the strands are cut and hand-rolled to resemble thick spaghetti shapes, ready to be bathed in a traditional cacio e pepe sauce of cream, black pepper and sharp pecorino cheese.
Elsewhere on the menu you’ll find orecchiette rubbing shoulders with Italian sausage and bright cherry tomatoes, tagliolini perfumed with white truffle paste, and wide strands of pappardelle, slow cooked for eight hours in a meaty beef cheek ragu with the magical mirepoix.
Pasta aside, the short but sweet menu lands on some crowd favourites: there’s creamy burrata cheese, a selection of cold cuts, and hearty homemade meatballs luxuriating in a bright tomato sauce. Wines, meanwhile, are available by the glass or carafe, and represent a carefully curated list from Italy’s best grape-growing regions.
According to Christian and Manuel, simple things are often the hardest, and the menu was born after a year and a half of brainstorming and whittling down over 100 different pasta and sauce combinations to a menu of just under 20 items. This allows for Pici to focus on the peak season ingredients of the highest quality – a distinction that shines through in every bite.
The owners have plans to open Pici in a larger location in Central, with a beautiful open kitchen where guests can have a holistic look into the quality and care that goes into the pasta making. But for now, Pici represents a small neighbourhood gem that’s upholding an Italian tradition one handmade ravioli at a time.