BICE Ristorante is a table service restaurant in Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. It's a top quality meal.
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A premier, must-do dining experience
A good place to eat, though not great
Okay, but you could do better
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It's probably the most exclusive table service restaurant at UO, but not actually owned or operated by Universal. Bice is a family-owned and operated chain that originated in Milan, Italy back in 1926. I guess you could call this the Victoria and Albert's of Universal Orlando, but I would only draw that comparison because both restaurants are the most expensive and exclusive restaurants at each resort - I would still rate V&A's light years ahead of Bice in terms of imagination, diversity, uniqueness, and class. For instance, V&A's is a "jacket required" establishment, while Bice simply requests business/resort casual attire. Also, children are welcome at Bice (there is a kid's menu), while V&A's prefers diners to be serious gormands, and while they won't deny service to kids, they expect children to order from the adult menu.
Bice (pronounced Bee-chay) features hand-made pasta, seafood, and grilled meats that most guests would not be able to find in their neighborhood bar and grill. The restaurant has an array of specials and seasonal dishes that rotate throughout the year. On our visit this past June, we ordered almost exclusively from the specials. We started with a Wagyu Beef tartare that was sumptuous. The tender meat was tossed with an avocado, egg, vinaigrette, and topped with micro greens and a Parmesan tweel. I contemplated the beef carpaccio from the regular menu, but went with the special, and even our 8-year old approved of the selection.
For our entrees, I ordered a grilled duck breast with olives and risotto, while my wife went with the grilled veal chop with peppercorn reduction, and my son got the Agnolotti stuffed with shrimp and crab topped with a lobster prawn sauce. Having a taste of all three, my son ended up with the top dish. The pasta was cooked to perfection and bursting with delicious filling, but the star was the sauce that was like a lobster bisque ladled from heaven. My duck was very well cooked with a solid flavor profile and delicious whole olives, while my wife's veal was excellent with an unexpected kick from the peppercorn reduction. While I found all three dishes excellent, my son's pasta would be my go to dish every day of the week. Portions were quite generous considering that high end restaurants are trending towards smaller and smaller plates, and we did not feel the need for dessert, though the selections were quite tempting.
Our final bill for the three of us came in at @$250 including a bottle of wine, so it's a bit of wallet buster for value travelers. However, compared to some of Disney's other signature restaurants aside from V&A's (like Artist Point, California Grill, Flying Fish, and Citrico's), Bice stands shoulder to shoulder in terms of price and quality. The setting of the restaurant at the Portofino Bay with windows overlooking the harbor make a meal even more memorable than most of those Disney restaurants that rely on interior themeing or nightly fireworks displays to accentuate the atmosphere. Bice is definitely worth the splurge, and exemplifies the class and quality of UO's top resort.
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