Wan Chai is choc-a-bloc with a variety of tasty eateries lately, from the swanky and swish to the modest and cool.
Piccolo Pizzeria & Bar is one of the latter, and after successful branches in Kennedy Town and Tai Hang, a third restaurant has now opened on Tai Wong East Street in Wan Chai. If you enjoy Piccolo’s Roman-style pizzas and satisfying pastas, but found Tai Hang and Kennedy Town just that little bit too far to get to, then the Wan Chai branch is nicely in the middle to sort out your needs.
Homey and family-friendly were the two things that first sprung to mind when I set foot inside. The premises are thankfully larger than their Tai Hang branch, which despite my best efforts, I could never get a seat at! The word ‘friendly’ persists, with happy helpful staff who were just on the right end of chatty to talk me through the menu and their specials.
I had a good view of Piccolo’s space, gazing up at their muted tin lights with different shaped tungsten filaments lining the centre of the ceiling and their open bar. 70s and 80s music washed over me, and I had to stop myself from showing my age and busting out some karaoke warblings to The Police and Spandau Ballet!
The menu does not try too hard with too many dishes or anything overly fancy. Instead, Piccolo’s focus is on freshly made pizzas and pastas, with the addition of a daily special. I started off with their basic beetroot and rocket salad, which was nicely dressed but could have done with a slightly more generous helping of beetroot to the forest of rocket on my plate.
I tried a small portion of the special that day, which was an Italian seafood soup called “Cioppino”, with red snapper, squid, shrimp, clams and lobster. The shrimp were sweet and the broth full of flavour – quite clearly the result of a good amount of reduction, since half the sea was in there!
The staff recommended I try the Nduja de Calabria pasta with live prawns tossed with chilli. This was by far the most delicious pasta I have had for a long time. The Nduja, which is the Calabrian version of salami, is spicy and typically used as a spread on breads or served with cheese. In this pasta dish, the chorizo-like piquant sausage lovingly coated the pasta and the prawns were so fresh and sweet, that I clean forgot I had pizzas to look forward to and tucked into this dish with gusto.
I was able to sample two of Piccolo’s pizzas – their signature Pizza Pancetta with bacon, tomato sauce and a soft egg, and the bestselling Prosciutto di Parma with Parma ham and rocket. Both were excellent, though I especially loved the Pizza Pancetta. The pizza bases were crispy and thin and the cheeses melted and bubbled to perfection. I stopped at two slices from each and excitedly asked to have the leftovers to takeaway, a brilliant decision on my part as my lunch at home the next day was amazing!
The Pizza Pancetta was, I think, even tastier when I had it cold. Not that I would exactly encourage this, but I am definitely ordering this pizza again and saving some for leftovers.
Although I was on the verge of bursting, no meal would be complete without some dessert. I had to try Piccolo’s tiramisu, which was lovely, light and child-friendly. The portion is just enough to satisfy anyone’s craving for a sweet ending without being too cloying. The panna cotta was smooth and full of vanilla pods, which I love, and I was pleased to note that it was not overly rich or sweet and the fruits were a refreshing complement.
I can see exactly why Piccolo Pizzeria has been able to open a third branch. With reasonable prices (around $120-180 for mains) for hearty, unpretentious but well-executed food, it is somewhere that I know I will be finding my way back to for a tasty meal with solid service and a friendly atmosphere.
Piccolo Pizzeria & Bar Shop4-5, G/F, 22 Tai Wong East Street, Wan Chai
2824 3002 www.facebook.com/Piccolowc
Piccolo’s other branches in Hong Kong are at
Piccolo Pizzeria & Bar Shop 1E, Davis Street, Kennedy Town Western District
2824 3000 www.facebook.com/Piccolowc
Piccolo Pizzeria & Bar G/F, 1 Wun Sha Street, Tai Hang
2824 3001 www.facebook.com/Piccolowc
Check out more foodie adventures from Michelle on her blog, Chopstixfix!