As soon as you walk into Bice, you'll be bathed in a glowing golden light so warm you might mistake it for perpetual firelight; either that or the shimmering shine of the gold brick storage at Fort Knox.
The low-level lighting and the soft yellow walls, as well as the multi-colored hardwood floors, give off an immediate sense of high-class comfort and safety from the harshness of the outside world. Even if it's 70 degrees out and breezy, you'll feel like you've just stepped into a toasty and inviting mountain cabin—fireplace and all—after an afternoon of James Bond-esque ski adventures on snow-covered slopes. From the doorway, you'll see the typical restaurant bar to your right, only prettier, with gold-lined trim and everything. Keep walking and you'll see the wide-open dining room that's perfect for parties and intimate dinners alike.
But Bice is more about the exquisite food, Italian through and through, than the gorgeous, low-toned visual design. Though it's not the cheapest food you'll ever come across, it's a whole lot cheaper than half the restaurants along Michigan Avenue (and worth every penny to boot), with prices that range from $5.95 for Tuscan fries, bigger and spicier than your average French fries, to a $34.95 12-ounce sauteed filet mignon in a Barolo wine sauce.
Antipasti choices include fried calamari, zucchini and eggplant with spiced tomato sauce for $14.95, tuna tartar with avocado pure, shaved fennel and orange wedge in a lemon and olive oil dressing for $16.95 and imported Parma prosciutto served with sweet Cantaloupe melon for $16.25. And since no Italian restaurant would be complete without a widely varied pasta list, try one of many homemade pasta dishes ($13.95-$18.95), such as the penne pasta in spicy tomato sauce, the traditional meat lasagna, Emiliana style, topped with parmesan cheese or the spaghetti with clams in a garlic white wine sauce with cherry tomatoes and parsley.
Whatever you choose, and however much it costs, there's no doubt you'll go home fatter than you came. Stomach stapling, here we come!
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Benjamin Andrew Moore