Last month on a nice, bright sunny afternoon, Jake, T and I went Downtown. Normally I avoid Downtown like the plague but I’ve found that daytime trips to Downtown really aren’t that bad. We were heading to a Padres vs Cardinals game that evening and scored excellent parking right across the street from Petco Park. Since we were there about four hours before the game, parking was HELLA CHEAP. We paid $8 TOTAL and netted ourselves a $1/hr parking fee. SCORE. If you get there closer to game time it costs much more and there’s probably no parking left anyway. Going early has it’s advantages.
Of course we had a game plan for going early. I’m not just going to go hang out Downtown for three extra hours for no reason! I had been invited to come and check out the brand new lunch menu at Bice Ristorante. Bice is over on 4th Ave and Island Ave.
Bice Ristorante is right across the street from the Horton Grand Theatre (where we recently saw Mixtape, an awesome 80’s musical) and Cost Plus Market is just on the next block over. Back in the day this was a super seedy part of Downtown and I remember we would park around here at the loading docks just to go eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory. It was always dark and creepy back then. How times have changed!
Bice also has $5 happy hour specials featuring wine, beer, cocktails and a few yummy treats.
This is the bar area that you see when you first walk into Bice.
And this is the dining area for the bar. Behind that door, it leads to another dining area.
The lunch menu is a new addition for Bice who recently just started opening for lunch.
We were offered complimentary bread to start. Both of the breads were slightly warm. I preferred the focaccia bread over the sliced bread.
[cheese, olive oil, and balsamic]
Along with the bread, we were served this little bowl that was full of olive oil, balsamic dressing and a hunk of creamy cheese. It looks a bit like butter, doesn’t it? It was quite delicious paired with the bread. I really just kept eating bread to eat more of this ball of cheesy goodness. It was a soft, smooth cheese with a delicate and delicious flavor.
[italian cured meats and cheeses / $18]
Of course I always need MORE cheese in my life and we ordered the meat & cheese platter. All of the meats are imported from Italy. Sadly I don’t remember what’s what but I particularly enjoyed the little hard salami slices. The cheese was a soft, creamy brie which just filled me with great joy.
[melon and pineapple with prosciutto di parma and arugula / $12]
Because, uh, we didn’t have enough meat I guess (hah) we also go the prosciutto di Parma with melon and pineapple. This prosciutto is like the “cream of the crop” as far as prosciuttos go. It was so thinly shaved and just melted in your mouth as soon as you started to chew on it. I love eating this savory, slightly salty meat with something sweet. The balance of flavor is terrific and the fresh pepper on top added another depth of flavor to the meat and fruit.
[mint pappardelle alla bolognese, piave vecchio cheese | half – $9 / full – $17]
T ordered the Pappardelle pasta dish. The mint pappardelle is made in house and you could tell just by looking at it with it’s rough edges. The bolognese sauce is like a meat lovers dream since it’s chock full o’ meat. I love how the thin slices of piave vechhio cheese is draped over the top of the pasta making it look extra luxurious. T happily ate every single bite of this dish.
[bread dough wrapped beef tenderloin “alla caprese” with basil sauce / $20]
Jake decided to order the dough wrapped tenderloin which after one bite I was jealous that I didn’t order it, too. It reminded me a bit of mini beef wellington with it’s little doughy wrapper. Once you got into the sucker the beef was a perfect medium rare. It was served “alla caprese” which means it had mozzarella and fresh tomato on top of the juicy tenderloin. The meat was seasoned so perfectly and I loved the crispy bread dough with it. God, I was so jealous I didn’t order this.
[nettles potato gnocchi al sugo, burrata and pesto with cashews | half – $9 / full – $14]
There was gnocchi on the lunch menu. With burrata! And pesto! And cashews! I had to order it!
The gnocchi was made with a leafy ingredient called nettles which I wasn’t too familiar with. The flavor is sort of spinach-like and overall I thought the nettle flavor was just okay. The rest of the dish I really enjoyed though – especially the pockets of burrata. I didn’t mix it up since I wanted to have different areas of flavor as I ate through the dish. The cashews added a nice little crunch and nuttiness to the dish which I really enjoyed. I hadn’t really thought of eating nuts with pasta before… but perhaps it’s something I should experiment with at home.
If I could have this with “regular” gnocchi instead I would have liked it a bit more but as a whole this is an interesting and fun dish to try.
Here are the boys in their baseball gear. Look, Jake had hair last month!
You may be wondering WHY Jake is wearing a Cardinals jersey when he’s a Padres fan. It’s because he likes the attention he gets from wearing the old uniforms from other fans (which is 100% true – you can ask him).
And in case you’re wondering, the Padres won 8-0 that night over the Cardinals. Crazy pants.
425 Island Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
Lunch Open: Tue-Sat 11am-2pm
Dinner Daily: 5pm-10ish
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Bice Ristorante. Our meal was complimentary and I was not further compensated. All opinions stated here are my own.