When many Italian dining houses in the city carry a little bit of everything that the peninsula’s diverse gastronomy has to offer, PICI Pasta Bar hones its focus on the namesake classic dish. “In general, we felt like there’s still not enough places that focus on good, fresh pasta,” said co-owner Tiara Salvabilla. “So we try to create everything—we want to make pasta for everyone.”
Situated on Cikatomas II Street, Pici presents itself like a neighbourhood pasta joint that is comfortably lodged among residential houses, tucked away from the main road abuzz with other eateries. Stepping in, one is greeted with the breezy and casual outdoor bar, a comparatively different feeling once inside, where the atmospheric ceiling and gently-lit corners create a distinctive mood. But the semi-open kitchen balances this ambience, where diners sitting at the dining bar can take a peek into the daily preparation of fresh hand-rolled pasta before they reach the plate.
Developed together with Sicily-born Chef Giuseppe Rivoli, a family friend and founder of seafood restaurant Baccala in Labuan Bajo, the homemade pasta selection here can be dissected through shapes, sauces and ingredients used. Craving a rich and ragu meat-based sauce with thick-shaped pasta? Go for Pici Bolognese. In the mood for nutty, basil flavours mixed into flat, wide pasta? Try the Pesto Pappardelle.
The presence of seafood is also quite evident, thanks to Chef Giuseppe and his influence growing up in the seaside town. For example, the already-familiar Spaghetti Aglio Olio comes with the option to add chunks of octopus, while the scroll-shaped pasta of Casarecce Mediterranea holds in the flavours of anchovies, capers, black olives and shrimp tartar.
Another element he brought to Pici is the Italian food philosophy on the simple power of homemade food. “I think so much of it is comfort food for him,” said Diandra Krista, one of the partners at Pici. “For example, our antipasti Eggplant Parmigiana is actually his grandmother’s recipe, and that’s the one thing that he doesn’t allow others to change.” The baked dish appetiser layered with eggplant, mozzarella and tomato sauce, is already a rising favourite amongst customers.
While Pici takes pride in its lineup of pasta creations, that’s not to say that diners won’t pick a favourite in the restaurant’s other dishes, from the antipasti like the aforementioned parmigiana to the brief selection of steak, like a plate of Bistecca Di Ribeye for another source of protein. One might even go back simply for the delicately sweet tiramisu and cocktail offerings. But at its essence, there should be one pasta that suits every diner coming to the restaurant, and that’s the convenience that Pici Pasta Bar & Ristorante gladly share.