Bice has a new prix fixe menu for the month of October. $41 gets you three courses, including a starter, entree, and dessert. One thing that’s immediately obvious is the proliferation of pumpkin. Pumpkin seeds are scattered on a salad, pumpkin flesh is mashed into potatoes and incorporated into pasta, and the big orange squash even makes its way into both of the desserts. I sampled a few of the most pumpkinated dishes: Tortelli di Zucca, Carnaroli Risotto, and two pumpkin desserts.
Of the four options for mains, the starches sounded the most promising, especially the Tortelli di Zucca pictured above. Pumpkin pasta is stuffed with a smooth pumpkin and cheese filling that’s sweetened up with crumbled amaretti cookies. On top, there’s a buttery sage emulsion, a few flakes of pecornio, and sage. It’s indulgent and sweet, with nostalgic flavors of fall.
The risotto was also excellent, but I couldn’t detect any of the advertised fresh pumpkin. The mushrooms were bouncy and flavorful, and the carnaroli risotto was flawlessly prepared, rich, and creamy… not to mention, the portion size could have easily satisfied a table of four.
My +1 was all over the pumpkin ice cream, but my bet is that’s because it was served in a chocolate cup, and any chocolate/ice cream combo is an easy winner for him. I liked the presentation of the dessert, and the pumpkin ice cream was tasty, if a bit icy.
For me, the winning dessert was the pumpkin budino, served with a smear of salted caramel. The rich, custardy pudding had a delicious pumpkin flavor that was accented by a refreshing ping of citrus. It was creamy and rich, but balanced enough that you could eat the entire thing and feel great about that decision. If you’re really stealthy, snag the cookie that’s served with the ice cream, spoon some of the budino on top, and take a bite.
The prix-fixe at Bice is a great way to get a good sampling of the menu, but if you’re really strapped, time your visit around happy hour (5 to 7 p.m. on Mon-Sat and all day on Sunday). Bice rolls out a solid spread of savory bites, including options like a wild boar sausage sandwich on a pretzel bun, beef carpaccio on Himalayan sea salt, fried calamari and zucchini, or crispy lobster “pizza”. All items, including select beer and wines by the glass are $5 each.