REVIEW: Bice Ristorante at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel – A Surprisingly Good Upscale Italian Restaurant at a Theme Park Resort
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has reopened at Universal Orlando Resort, which means the return of Bice Ristorante. As part of our tour of the hotel, we decided to have dinner at this fine Italian restaurant.
The restaurant is on the second floor, accessible by an elegantly-lit staircase.
Outside the entrance, a sign reminds guests that face coverings and temperature checks are mandatory.
Bice Ristorante Arrival and Seating
For those who prefer outdoor dining, a patio offers views of the Mediterranean-inspired hotel exteriors. We loved how much this resort reminded us of Tokyo DisneySea’s Mediterranean Harbor.
A piano sits across from the bar, though no player was present at the time.
The bar itself has a classy look thanks to its marble countertop.
As we entered the dining room, the first thing we spotted was a Christmas tree. It’s a further reminder that the holiday season is upon us.
The tree is decorated with lights and long, thin ornaments resembling icicles.
The plush interior and white tablecloths suggest this is one of the finer dining options at the hotel… and thankfully, there’s a menu to match.
Coat and purse racks are placed near many of the tables for added convenience.
Bice Ristorante Menu
Most reopened restaurants throughout the parks and resorts have very limited menus, so it’s refreshing to see a vast menu filled with many options, from pasta, to steak, to fish, and more.
Bice Ristorante Complimentary Bread
The bread was delicious, although we noticed one random piece of a different bread. It’s very dense, but soft and fresh. It comes with an oil and a vinegar, which were really good. We liked the sweet flavor from the vinegar a lot. It’s a solid starter.
Bice Ristorante – Cocktails
Pomegranate Martini – $16
This attractive-looking martini is made with Grey Goose Vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, pomegranate mix and cranberry juice.
We thought this was amazing. It was heavy on the vodka but super smooth, and slightly fruity due to the pomegranate and cranberry.
It’s not very sweet or sugary, so it’s perfect for those that want a strong, but drinkable alcoholic beverage.
Sazerac – $16
The Sazerac is made with absinthe, Redemption Rye Whiskey, Peychaud bitters and garnished with a lemon peel. This was likely the strongest Sazerac we’ve ever had, whether it be at a theme park or even in New Orleans. If someone lit a match in the restaurant, we might have exploded. We’re not sure this is a complaint, as it had the desired results.
Italian Old Fashioned – $16
This was made with aromatic bitters, Cinzano sweet vermouth, Maker’s Mark, Amaretto di Saronno and a maraschino cherry served with a slice of orange.
It had many different tastes, but was well-balanced. It was boozy enough, but we didn’t taste it. This has to be one of the best cocktails we’ve ever had at Universal Orlando.
Bice Ristorante – Antipasti
Calamari, Gamberi, Zucchine e Funghi Fritti con Salsa al Pomodoro Piccante – $19
For those who aren’t fluent in Italian, this is crispy flash fried calamari, shrimp, zucchini and mushrooms with a spicy tomato sauce.
While this is $21, it’s a surprisingly great value. The dish offered an even amount of legs and rings, and with the size, it was plenty for five people to share. It’s salty, but it doesn’t taste fishy, and it’s beautifully complimented by the vegetables.
Although the mushrooms were a bit strange with this mix, they were still tasty, and like the zucchini, had plenty of flavor to them. They were juicy and slightly crunchy thanks to the the coating.
It probably could have used a little less salt, but overall, but we enjoyed it.
Antipasto all’Italiana con Salumi, Formaggi assortiti, servito con olive – $21
This is a selection of assorted cured meats and imported cheeses served with olives.
The plate offered an extremely strong, flavorful Parmesan cheese, which was delicious. Although it looked like there might have been different types of cheese because some looked cubed and others look “crumbled”, there was only one type. We think it could have used a variety of cheeses to make it better.
This was also a little salty. We wouldn’t say you’d need to try this, but there’s really nothing wrong with it. The olives were pitted and marinated in oil, which we enjoyed. It’s nothing memorable, but it’s still pretty good. It just really needed more of a variety of cheese.
Bice Ristorante – Carne (Meats)
Splitting Charge of $5 will apply Add any Vegetable Sides $9.00
Scaloppine di Vitello “Piccata” Patate alla crema e Asparagi Saltati – $32
The sautéed veal scaloppini is topped with a lemon capers and white wine sauce, and served with potatoes au gratin and sautéed asparagus.
The veal was a little tough at times, but it had moments of tenderness. We wouldn’t order it again, but the accompaniments were fantastic.
The asparagus was evenly cooked and lightly salted, while the potato gratin was perfectly cooked. It wasn’t too mushy, not too much cream or cheese, it was just beautifully seasoned.
Carre’ di Agnello arrosto servito con Funghi, pomodorini saltati e Pure’ di patate – $38
The oven roasted rack of lamb served with is served with sautéed fresh mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes in a port wine demi glaze. We substituted asparagus for the mushrooms. The presentation was simple but elegant. The lamb itself was set on a glaze of a port wine demi glaze, which when paired with the meat or the mashed potatoes gave them both a nice flavor and a hint of tang.
The lamb was well seared and had a nice crispness on the outside. The asparagus was cooked evenly, though it definitely tasted under-seasoned. The mashed potatoes were creamy and also well-seasoned. We would definitely get this dish again.
Bice Ristorante – Pesce (Fish)
Trancio di Salmone in crosta di pistacchio servito con verdure di stagione – $30
For seafood lovers, there’s this pistachio-crusted Atlantic salmon served with seasonal vegetables. The salmon itself was delicious and perfectly moist. The crushed pistachio topping added a slight sweet crunch, which was enjoyable. It was both well-cooked and well-seasoned.
The portion size was good for the price. The vegetables were cooked well but quite plain, with very little seasoning. Overall, we found it to be a good meal.
Bice Ristorante – La Pasta Tradizionale
Traditional Pasta Whole Wheat and Gluten Free Pasta available on request for substitutions
Risotto ai funghi freschi, Zafferano e scalogno – $31
The risotto comes with fresh wild mushrooms, saffron and scallions. Ours was made with Parma and Romano cheese, wild mushrooms and truffles. Unsurprisingly, it had a very thick, creamy, heavy Parmesan cheese flavor.
It didn’t look like it a lot of mushrooms, but once we started to dig in, the mushrooms were plentiful. These were juicy, hearty mushrooms that complimented the Parmesan and Romano cheeses.
The risotto was firm and cooked well. This is a solid option for those looking for a meat-free meal.
Bice Ristorante – La Pasta Fatta In Casa
Homemade Pasta Whole Wheat and Gluten Free Pasta available on request for substitutions
Cappellaccio al brasato di manzo con salsa cremosa ai funghi – $26
This is homemade “Little Hat” shaped pasta stuffed with braised beef short rib, served with fresh mushrooms and marsala cream sauce. The pasta was perfectly cooked, Meanwhile, the pocket was allegedly filled with braised short rib and spinach, but the spinach was missing in action. Thankfully, it didn’t matter. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender and not too salty.
Finishing it off was the mushroom marsala sauce, which was rich, creamy, and almost too much at times, but we but couldn’t stop eating it. If you love mushrooms, this is a winner, as there are lots of them in the dish. Thankfully, it was well-balanced and a had nice sized portion.
Bice Ristorante – Dolci
Tiramisù della BiCE – $11
This is a homemade classic tiramisu cake with mascarpone cheese and espresso-soaked ladyfinger cookies.
We expected this to not be very good, but it was great and every flavor was balanced perfectly. The coffee flavor wasn’t overpowering, which was pleasant.
Each ingredient tasted fresh. The cake was firm, and the cream was soft. We were surprised with how good this was.
Cioccolatissimo alla Bice con Gelato alla Vaniglia – $11
This flourless chocolate cake comes served with vanilla gelato.
This was one of our favorite desserts. It was super decadent and had very rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet.
It pairs well with the ice cream and the berries. This is a fabulous way to end your meal.
Hungry for more? Check out our review of sandwiches and pizza at Sal’s Market Deli, and keep reading WDWNT and Universal Parks News Today for more tasty morsels from Universal Orlando Resort!