Pasta對你來說是主食嗎？我曾經以為如是。幾年前在米蘭巷弄一家傳統餐館嚐過的地道意大利麵後，完全改觀。那道意粉是Second Course，一人小碟份量，即叫即製，麵條爽滑彈牙、醬汁滋滋香美，一口接一口，味道濃不膩，那刻陶醉得可以完全忘卻生活、工作的煩惱。難怪意大利導演Federico Fellini曾說過：「 La vita è una combinazione di magia e pasta」 （Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta）。
最近主打意大利手工意粉的Pasta Bar中環新店Pici，重新燃起我對Pasta的思念。餐廳裝潢以舒適、休閒風格為主，配入牆書架、長雲石吧檯和開放式廚房，讓客人邊坐邊看廚師團隊即場製作意粉。意大利人熱衷手工意粉，講究質素、味道和口感，取勝之處在於食材、製作，主廚Andrea Viglione當然不例外，對意粉與醬汁的掌控力近乎神奇。推薦菜式並不是新店限定菜式，或加入黑松露、番紅花昂貴食材的那種，而是菜單上最樸實的Cacio e Pepe、Pappardelle和Ravioli Carbonara。
先說Cacio e Pepe，這個被稱之為最簡約意粉組合，材料只有芝士（Grana Padano／Parmesan／Pecorino）、黑胡椒和牛油，考驗廚師的火候、手勢和食材新鮮度，這家呈上的是一道藝術，意粉麥子香味與黑椒、芝士奶香完美地混和；Pappardelle，採用慢煮牛臉頰肉，肉醬帶小肉塊，經過了八小時烹熬的，質感嫩滑，濃度剛好「掛汁」於麵條上。這是意大利家常料理之一，卻不容易在香港的意大利餐廳吃得到；最後則是變奏版Ravioli Carbonara，廚師將雞蛋、芝士包於意粉皮中，一盤只有兩件意粉餃，煙肉作配料，意餃切開即流出半熟的蛋黃汁，讓你珍而重之地細嚐。來這家Pasta Bar，光是Pasta加紅酒或貝里尼（Bellini），就可以讓一天變得更順心、美好。
Is pasta a staple food for you? I used to think it was, for me. But a few years ago, after trying some authentic Italian pasta at a traditional restaurant tucked away down an alley in Milan, my perception had changed completely. The pasta I tried was a second course, served on a small plate for each person. Freshly made to order, the paste was cooked al dente and coated with a scrumptious and aromatic sauce. With the flavors so rich yet not heavy at all, I took one bite after another, and I was so immersed in those moments that I could completely forget about all the worries in life and at work. It is then no surprise that Italian director Federico Fellini once said: “La vita è una combinazione di magia e pasta”（Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta）
Pasta Bar Pici, which specializes in handmade Italian pasta, has opened its new branch in Central, which rekindles my longing for pasta. The restaurant’s interior boasts a comfy and relaxing style, furnished with built-in bookshelves, long marble bar tables and an open kitchen, which gives the customers the chance to see how the team of chefs prepare the pasta at their seat. Italians are passionate about handmade pasta, and are particular about quality, taste and texture. What sets their pasta apart is the use of ingredients and the preparation. Certainly, Pici’s head chef, Andrea Viglione, is no exception. When it comes to preparing pasta and sauce, his skills are bordering on miraculous. Recommended dishes on the menu are not limited ones for the new branch, nor those garnished with luxurious ingredients such as black truffle and saffron, but the most down-to-earth pasta on the menu, including Cacio e Pepe, Pappardelle and Ravioli Carbonara.
First of all, Cacio e Pepe is known as the simplest pasta combination, with only cheese, black pepper and butter as ingredients, and thus, the chef’s control of time and temperature, his or her culinary skills, and the freshness of the ingredients really count. Pici’s rendition can be regarded as a piece of art, with the wheat’s aroma blended in perfect harmony with black pepper and the cheese’s creamy flavor. Pappardelle makes use of beef cheek that has been slow-cooked for eight hours, resulting in a meat sauce with tiny pieces of meat that boasts a smooth texture and a perfect thickness that coats nicely on the pasta. This is one of the common family dishes in Italy but can rarely be found in Italian restaurants on Hong Kong. Last but not least, in this Ravioli Carbonara variation, with eggs and cheese wrapped inside the dough by the chef, each dish contains only too raviolis, with bacon as toppings. When cut open, the ravioli releases half-cooked running egg yolk, prompting you to enjoy it with great care. In this Pasta Bar, you just need some pasta and red wine or Bellini to brighten up your day.