Cheese lover’s nirvana
Italian food is always a crowd pleaser. In San Diego, groups travel among many restaurants for dinearounds in the intoxicating Gaslamp Quarter. Among the 150 restaurants, BiCE Restorante is a refined Tuscan-style restaurant that looks and feels like a NYC hot spot. The globetrotting restaurant chain operating from Tokyo to Abu Dhabi boasts a true sense of Italian excellence due to Italian Chef Mario Cassineri and his bold flavor choices.
Our group dined in the private Miliano room, seating 50 pax adjacent to the lobby bar. The space is warm, splashed with eggshell walls, sheer curtains and sprouting foliage, all dimmed by candle light. The novel-size wine list is super Italian, just like the staff. I choose a glass of Tuscan Prosecco.
A must-do before the entrees arrive is an exploration of the cheese and salumi bar, an expansive spread of delectable cheeses and dry cured meats. We mingled over the display of savory creations while sharing recommendations and favorites. My favorite was the Burrata with roasted Chino’s Farm peppers. There’s also a large variety of artisan breads with honey, all made in-house.
The Italian flair really warms up the group and everyone introduced themselves with no hesitation. In case you’re stumped for conversation, you can always point out the most abstract menu item: Blue Cheese cotton candy. Yes, it is as weird and as delicious as it sounds.
All of us were unable to decide on just one entree so we left it up to Chef Cassineri to show off his best. We didn’t realize what we were in for. A whopping 10 courses later, we were more than full of beet risotto filled with gooey cheese sauce topped with scallops doused in squid ink and saffron. It seemed like all homemade pasta and meat dishes were smothered in extra virgin olive oil and a variety of spices. Every dish was a treat.
After filling up on mascarpone stuffed rolls and rabbit ravioli, we were presented with an uber-tempting tray of sweets, including the “Gold.” A golden chocolate cake is infused with espresso and paired with peanut butter , all of which is coated with a gold-dusted chocolate shell. Desserts at BiCE are large enough to be enjoyed together and we couldn’t help but order a few.
This was one of those meals that you’ll always talk about, even after your final cup of Italian espresso.
Scallops with squid ink and saffron
Cheese & Salumi Bar