We were dropping by Hsinchu in northeast Taiwan after a morning picking strawberries in Miaoli (further south) and needed a good recommendation for a place to have lunch. That recommendation turned out to be Piccola Enoteca, an Italian joint with an innovative recipe crafted by a Hong Kong owner.
The restaurant is small, with probably only enough room for 30-40 seats, but even for a Friday lunch it was very busy. Here is their menu (which apparently changes regularly), available in both Chinese and English — but I apologize for it being too small to read properly. They have a mix of homemade bread, antipasti, pasta, and main course meats, as well as side dishes. They also have some daily specials, so be sure to check out what they are from the professional staff.
Here’s what we ordered (for four adults).
Next, fried truffle and mushroom balls. Incredible stuff. Anything fried and anything with truffle is awesome, so the two together is hard to top.
The first main course is a simple handmade pasta with black truffle, shaved freshly before your eyes. The handmade is perfection, though the flavours were held back to allow the star of the dish, the truffle, to dominate.
The second pasta dish was the pumpkin ravioli. A superb blend of textures and sweet flavours. An Italian dish with an Asian touch.
The third and last pasta was a more conventional tomato-fish spaghetti with ample garlic and a sprinkle of cheese and chili. The highlight again was the handmade spaghetti, cooked al dente.
The main meat recommendation was “Saltimbocca”, the Chinese name for which is translated to “Jump in the mouth”. It comprises Yilan pork together and ham together with special herbs and spices. Very interesting mix of textures and flavours, especially with the Basalmic vinaigrette to give it a tangy sourness.
The other meat was a special, a fish dish with an assortment of vegetables. The fish was well cooked, though this was probably the least memorable order of the meal.
We were already stuffed, but dessert was a must.
We ended up ordering this homemade vanilla ice cream with Balsamic, a strange combination but a successful one. The ice cream was very creamy, and the Balsamic helped balance the flavours with a light tang.
The other was a traditional tiramisu. One of the better ones I’ve had in Taiwan for sure.
My favourite dessert selection was their lemon cheese cake, which was surprisingly light and fluffy but not too sweet and with just the right amount of sourness. With some chopped apple on the side, this was an incredible end to a pleasant meal.
On the whole, a very rewarding dining experience. It would have been perfect if they had some pizza, but in terms of pasta and desserts it’s definitely a place worth visiting if you happen to be around Hsinchu.
Piccola Enoteca (彼刻義式餐酒館)
Address: No. 84, Guangming 3rd Road, Zhubei city, Hsinchu county
Phone: (03) 558 6831
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/piccolaenotecatw
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30-15:00, 17:00-22:00, Sat-Sun 11:30-22:00