REVIEW: Bici in Ulverston

My goddaughter is about to head off to Belize to spend six months doing environmental scientific research into water and fish.

Where she'll working there will be no electricity, no wi-fi and, from what I can gather, she will be mainly living off a diet of rice and beans.

To shore up her memories of what it's like to pop out to a local restaurant for some great food that doesn't involve rice or beans, her mum and I took her to Bici in Ulverston this week for a feast of all things authentically Italian.

Bici is a bijou restaurant in the Gill, converted from a former bicycle shop (Bici is Italian for bike) by an enterprising London lawyer. It has quickly carved a niche in the local dining out scene, with customers raving about its pizzas, made in an oven behind the bar.

This was just my second outing to Bici, and my first to partake of the famous pizzas. Wednesday evening and the place was rammed with families and couples enjoying the food and atmosphere of this lovely place.

Joined by my husband, our group occupied a corner table opposite the bar, and set about sampling the delights on offer. We shared a range of small plates to get things going: cured beef with rocket and pecorino (£8.75), burrata with tomato and basil (£7.20) and smoked cheese and peppers with polenta chips (£7.20). All were simply excellent. A restaurant stands or falls on the quality of its food and Bici has completely nailed things on the ingredients front. Everything is clearly top quality and authentic. The burrata cheese was the creamiest I've tasted in an Italian restaurant, the cured beef was subtle and luscious, and the cheese and pepper dish a dreamy melted delight. Washed down with a bottle of excellent Pinot Grigio at a shade under £20, this was superb. My husband, who adores Italian food, was in his element.

Particularly pleasing for him was the atmosphere and acoustics. He isn't a fan of places where you have to shout to make yourself heard; and at Bici the acoustics are great. Despite the fact the restaurant was packed, there was no trouble having a conversation, which made the evening relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable.

For mains, goddaughter Olivia, mum Sarah and I all went for the pizzas, which I was dying to try. Sarah, who eats here quite regularly, said they are the best she's tasted, so I was intrigued.

The Bici pizzas are either rossa or bianca - red or white: the former having tomato as their base, the latter with a bechamel base.

Olivia, who is a vegetarian and almost vegan, chose a white pizza topped with mushrooms and olives (£13.50), Sarah went for a Carnivora rossa (she's not a vegetarian) with cured pork shoulder, salami and wild mushrooms (£14) and I chose a pizza pugliese, with oregano, sliced white onions and anchovies (£12.50). All the pizzas can be ordered with gluten free bases, and vegan cheese is available.

Gordon isn't a huge fan of pizza, so he ordered gamberoni al forno - giant red king prawns cooked in the wood fired oven (let's hope Michael Gove, who wants to ban wood burners, doesn't hear about this) and accompanied by roasted cherry tomatoes. This dish was £13, which Gordon topped up with a side order of toasted bread at £2.

Like the sharing plate starters, all the mains were excellent. Sarah was right: these are the best pizzas you'll get in these parts. Absolutely superb. The anchovies on mine were high quality and beautifully salty, the white onions glossy and perfectly al dente. The other pizzas were equally enjoyed; and Gordon's prawns were huge, well-cooked and juicy. Plenty of napkins for him and a good-sized finger bowl, too.

Service throughout was very friendly and professional, and a great atmosphere made this an exceptionally pleasant evening out.

With puddings of a chocolate brownie and various Italian ice creams, along with two bottles of wine (half of one got a cork stuffed back in it and accompanied me home), the bill for four came to just north of £140 which, for the quality of the food we had eaten, was good value.

If you love authentic Italian food, outstanding pizzas and stylish surroundings, then Bici can't be beaten. I loved it.

Food 5

Service 5

Atmosphere 5

Value 5


Superb ingredients

Excellent acoustics

Lively atmosphere


Pizzas cooked evenings only

You might have to wait for a table if you haven't booked