Beatrice Mungai Ruggeri (BiCE to her family and friends) opened her first restaurant in Milan in1926. In the years which followed, BiCE along with her brothers and sisters developed what became the pinnacle of Tuscan style cuisine in Milan. When her sons Remo and Roberto started to work in the Milan restaurant, they changed the typical trattoria into an International restaurant, and thus began a new era for the Ruggeri family’s restaurant concept. Bice New York, located at 7 East 54th Street, opened in 1987.
It is an atmosphere of spacious white cloth tables, lots of wood and Italian artwork. You enter into the bar and lounge area that lends itself to partying, but on an upscale level.
Silverio Chavez runs the kitchen here featuring Northern Italian cuisine. Chef di cuisine Eric Rucinski was on hand the evening that I sampled much of their signature dishes starting with the Insalata Gloriosa, a salad of romaine lettuce, asparagus, hearts of palm, avocado, corn, tomatoes and olives tossed with a tangy anchovy dressing. I think that us Americans have gotten used to eating salad as an appetizer vs the Italians who have it after a meal. Delicious combination on this one.
Pound out some fresh raw beef tenderloin so that it looks as if it was sliced and call it Carpaccio. Not only is it served with your typical thin slices of parmesan cheese, the rest of it consisting of hearts of palm and arugula, is served in a basket made of parmesan cheese along with a lemon dressing.
Here is what Eric tells me about the Burrata. “Burrata translates to buttered in English. It is a soft centered cream based cows milk cheese made from mozzarella, cream, sugar and butter. The special we were running that night was served on top of an arugula salad dressed with lemon and olive oil, accompanied by fresh roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes and garnished with 50 year old balsamic. I toss the burrata with an extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper in order to enhance the sweet cream flavor of the cheese.”
I love pasta that is made on the premises. There were a few that I sampled. One was the Ravioli Della Massaia Con Salsa Di Furnghi, veal and spinach ravioli with champion mushroom sauce. Another one was the Casoncelli Alla Bergamasca con Sugo Di Vitello, Tartufo Nero E Rosmarino…in other words….Veal and Parma ham ravioli with black truffle, with a rosemary veal sauce.
Next was another pasta recommended by Eric who says: “Tagliolini Con Aragosta is one of Bice’s signature dishes. It consists of chunky lobster morsels, a mix of Chanterelle, Portobello & Shitake mushrooms, for the sauce a blend of lobster bisque & tomato sauce reduce to a 1/3 to get that rich flavor”. And flavor is certainly had!
It is not unusual for an Italian or Mediterranean restaurant to serve “Branzino”, a white and meaty textured fish. Some restaurants of old have brought the actual dead fish to your table to inspect. Most have the time to serve it whole and either filet it for you at your table of just leave it up to you to dig in. Bich prefers to do this: Spray a 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick plank of food ready cedar wood with cooking pan spray, add seasoned fish and cherry tomatoes and place in a 400 degree preheated oven. Cook fish until an internal temperature of 140 degrees is achieved, or the fish becomes opaque and flakes easily.
Meanwhile, add shallots to a hot sauté pan with olive oil and sauté until translucent.
Add brussel sprouts, sundried tomatoes and garlic. Sauté until hot throughout and colors have become bright and vibrant; add salt and pepper to taste. Place vegetables on the bottom of serving dish. Remove fish from oven, and let rest for 5 minutes. Place cherry tomatoes in a bowl, and dress with herbs, truffle oil, salt and pepper. Layer branzino on top of vegetables, and garnish with tomato and herbs.”
One other delicious dish was the Osso Bucco. I will quote Eric on this.
Here is a photo of Eric, Manager Angelo Alban, and my ever smiling waiter, John Djombalic as Eric serves the Osso Bucco.
Dessert is always a must for me. With much to choose from I opted for the Italian Cheesecake served with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream. I was also able to taste a few of their other ice cream flavors since they were made at the restaurant. Hazelnut, chocolate and a raspberry sorbet.
Only one drawback to Bice is that although they are “handicapped accessible”, there is a long flight of stairs and no option for the restrooms. I use a cane and when I asked they did not mention an option of sending me “next door”, which is what they do for those who can’t handle the stairs. Odd way for me to get some exercise after a meal. Otherwise, I highly recommend dining here.