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Bice Ristorante

Dining Area
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Bice Ristorante is a welcome delight to the Gaslamp Quarter. Initially, the thought of having yet another Italian restaurant in the area brought a little head shaking. Yet, as difficult as it may seem, Bice takes it up at least a notch with service, flavor and sophistication.

Bice recently opened its doors again in San Diego and, with it, a breath of tradition and fresh appeal. Bice (pronounced “bee-shay”) landed here once many years ago as part of an ill-fated, high-end retail development. Wrong place, wrong time. Located on the indiscriminate corner of Island and 4th Avenue, the edifice suggests no secret of what lies within. That’s what we are here for.

Once inside, the interior of Bice shines with elegance and uncompromising design. Hues of cream, black and gray create a glimmering style that radiates throughout. Soft lighting and Italian-themed paintings compose the panache of the venue. Doorways open to a simple lounge area dwarfed by an inviting bar. High shelves create a fun backdrop showcasing spirits and ceramic pieces.

Step up to the dining area and enjoy the flair. A comfortable vibe embodies a style of chic that makes you want to be dressed just a little nicer here. Not your Christian Lacroix finest, but a little primping will suit you well. A cheese bar with stools accentuates one side of the room with offerings of 15 to 20 varieties of cheeses to sample. Add wine or champagne, and who needs the primary menu, although you can also order from it if you’d like. The far wall is literally floor-to-ceiling wine with an accompanying ladder on wheels to grab the hard-to-reach varietals. Love it!

Aside from the sensual splendor of Bice, another facet became instantly apparent – the service. We cannot remember a night where the staff flowed so seamlessly throughout the evening. Not only did they bring the well-presented dishes to the table, but also the ease of the banter between customer and staff was as natural as it could be. We almost felt like asking them to join us at the table.

There is an exquisite and truly Italian complexity with the menu at Bice. Antipasti, first course, second course, meat dishes and desserts all had a slight edge to them, creating something altogether more than the usual suspects. The menu is written in the native tongue with English subtitles, which is indeed appreciated since our Italian is, “notta so good.”


Cheese Bar
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Thinly sliced octopus with fennel and micro arugula salad seasoned with parsley and lemon dressing dazzled the table with its sheer simplicity of textures and flavors ($10). Incredibly thinly sliced, the octopus had body yet was tender at the same time. Bathed in the light citrus dressing and vegetables seemingly right of the field, this dish shined. A traditional Tuscan-style soup with beans, barley and crouton topped with foie gras terrine warmed up the soul with its complex flavors and robust seasonings ($10).

A beef tortellini in a 24 month aged parmesean cheese sauce with green peas and prosciutto was worth the two-year wait ($16). The prosciutto delivered crunchy morsels amongst the creamy, decadent cheese sauce and tender tortellini presenting a scrumptious first course.


Fresh Sea Bass
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Fresh Mediterranean sea bass cooked on a cedar wood plank and finished with grape tomatoes and a fresh herb truffle emulsion with a coponato furthered the incredible dining experience ($24). The spritz of truffle oil at the table (applied by the server) added such a deep composure to the already perfectly prepared fish and was a stylish way to showcase the elusive truffle. A lamb chop with mustard sauce and pistachio crust on a bed of whipped mashed potatoes continued the enchantment of great taste and flavors ($24). The texture and sheer moistness of the lamb was unstoppable with the crafty seasonings.

Bountiful and original dessert dishes loomed joyfully, and a full surrender was the only possible answer. The playful white and dark chocolate cake with rice crispies settled sugary cravings ($8). Four morsels of sweet chocolate with deep but not overpoweringly richness tickled the taste buds. The rice crispies added a layer of crunchy texture in contrast to the moist chocolate.

Bice Ristorante has made a triumphant return to San Diego, pulling out all the stops to ensure you have a grand experience. Chef Mario Cassineri is charming and talented, fresh from Bice in Dubai, a timely and fortuitous escape, we might add. Make sure you search out Managing Partner Rinaldo Colantoni if he doesn’t find and captivate you first. Both gentlemen are very welcome additions to our fine city and have raised the bar on culinary expectations.

Prices are on the higher end but not extravagant. As mentioned, the service was right on target and helped create an enjoyable evening. Not really a kid place, so get the sitters for your foray into the goodness of Bice.

The Good – Too many to choose from…okay, loved the octopus.

The Bad – An occasional lapse in time between dishes but hey, they just opened and will figure out those minor kinks.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-239-2423
  • Name: Bice Ristorante
  • Address: 425 Island Ave