Wednesday, September 24, 2014


A new neighbourhood and more restaurants to try based on convenience equals one happy lady. Asides from being a selective diner, I like everything to be perfect most of the time. I am well organized, have the creepiest best time management skills right down to the second and am freakishly detail oriented (except when it comes to writing…). Having said that, I needed my first meal as a new resident in the neighbourhood to be perfect... PERFECT.

Sounds hard? Like a whole day of researching restaurants to try? Nope. I stumbled upon Amici, checked some comments on Urbanspoon as well as Yelp and even went to their website. There are a couple of comments that majority of the clientele are in their 70s and to me that is a good sign because some seniors know good food! Then I decided to check their website and found, "you've just stepped back in time, to an era when the world moved more slowly, family was the focus and every meal was a time to celebrate" and knew this would be THE restaurant where I would love everything.

"Every meal was a time to celebrate" just shouts out good food to me! I mean, there are times when I have felt like "hmm the photos look good so perhaps the restaurant is not bad", but never like "this restaurant WILL be good". There are not even many photos of the food online and it was like I had a sixth sense thing regarding the restaurant. When we walked in, the owner welcomed us and mentioned to take a seat in the corner. I took that literally because there was a corner and the only table for two. However, he mentioned we could seat at a four person table because it would be more comfortable (plus, we do need the table space considering the amount of food we order too).

I took photos of the interior as we were leaving which explains the empty looking restaurant. The interior looks like a rustic Italian dining room and the restaurant is dimly lit but not too dark. Every table has a white linen tablecloth, a candle as well as gray cloth napkins, and the chairs are very fairly comfortable. The restaurant does not look as "yellow" as the photos too.

The bread basket includes foccacia, white and whole wheat dinner rolls. The foccacia tastes very soft and not too oily while the rolls are generic, soft with a pillowy crumb. What the both of us like the most is the EVOO and balsamic vinegar dressing. Usually there is not much to comment on but we both agreed the quality of the EVOO and balsamic tastes batter than many restaurants' we have tried, and is rich. Asides from the dressing, garlic aioli is provided too.

When we ordered the appetizers, the owner asked if we wanted all the starters at once or one by one. This is very appreciated because not many restaurants ask and we mentioned all at once is fine since we were hungry. He also asked if we needed more bread when the appetizers arrived and again after we finished. I wanted more… but could not spoil my appetite.

GAMBERONI GRANADA, "Burma tiger prawns sautéed with chilli, peppers, garlic, lemon and white wine sauce" ($14.95).
The prawns are nicely butterflied and just cooked, presenting a nice snap as well as bounce. There is a rich seafood flavour along with a simple buttery sauce and a hint of spiciness from the chilli flakes. The arugula salad with a rich balsamic and juicy tomatoes are also a nice touch.

ZUPPA DEL GLORMO, "Homemade daily soup, mushroom" ($6.95).
The soup is served hot and is well blended. There is a rich mushroom flavour along with a nice creaminess and tastes more mushroomy than creamy. The mushroom flavour is very deep and not too earthy or raw, making it one of the better ones I have had.

COZZE SCAPECE, "Mediterranean mussels steamed with garlic, scallions, roma tomatoes, lemon, white wine and butter" ($15.95).
When we inquired about the size of mussels, I appreciate the server's honesty because she mentioned it is hard to tell until after cooking and gestured a medium size. Similar to the prawns, the mussels are just cooked and not a second over. The mussels taste juicy but the seafood flavour is a bit too heavy (some restaurants decide to get rid of most of the flavour or not). As for the broth, there is a rich garlic wine flavour and a hint of chilli. The portion is actually pretty good too and there are plenty of mussels with only a couple of closed ones.

As we were ordering the pastas and entrees, the owner also asked if we wanted everything at once and we requested for the pastas first followed by entrees. This is something we would have forgotten to mention if he did not ask and fortunately he did!

SPAGHETTI AL GRANCHIO, "Fresh crab meat and asparagus in a vodka cream sauce" ($19.95).
Crab pasta is a favourite of mine and I rarely see restaurants offer it. Amici offers one with spaghetti but I requested for fettuccine instead. The fettuccine is al dente and the pasta tastes very creamy, but it is a light kind of creaminess. There is also a hint of alcohol and the flavour is neither overwhelming nor cooked away. After having more bites, the pasta tastes butterier as well as creamier and the naturally slightly bitter asparagus helps cut some of the fat. The asparagus also provides a bit of a nice crunch.

As for the plentiful amount of crab meat, there are chunks as well as shredded pieces. The meat tastes tender and the seafood flavour is a nice addition to the cream sauce. I really like the shredded pieces too because the flavour from the crab fuses together with the pasta.

SPAGHETTI PESCATORE, "Assortment of seafood in a zesty tomato sauce" ($21.95).
Curious to see what the assorted seafood included, this is BFs choice of pasta with penne instead of spaghetti. The penne is al dente and there is plenty of sauce. Usually he likes to request for extra sauce but forgot, so luckily it was not needed in this case.

The pescatore has a tomatoey light seafood flavour and a hint of spiciness. There is a good consistency in the sauce where it is neither watery nor too thick, and the fresh, raw and tangy flavours from the tomato really stand out. As for the seafood ingredients, everything is just cooked. The selection includes moist salmon and cod, as well as juicy mussels and prawns. Generally seafood stews or pastas can result in overcooked or stiff ingredients, but Amici did it right. I mean, even Sockeye City's seafood bowl had stiff and rock hard fish… and they are a seafood restaurant!

ANGELLO SLALVATORE, "Roasted rack of lamb atop Muscat raisins, pine nuts, finished in Marsala wine sauce" ($27.95).
Beginning with my entree, the lamb is medium rare as requested and has a great crispy crust. The seasoning tastes flavourful but not salty and the meat tastes tender along with juicy. There is also a nice light gamey flavour and the taste is not too strong.

As for the Marsala wine sauce, there is a subtle sweetness from the raisins and the reduction is not overwhelming. The accompanying sides are also great. The perfectly crisp potato wedges with a soft interior are well seasoned, not generic and have a nice rosemary flavour. The red peppers are nicely grilled too and the long broccoli tastes fresh with a soft crunch.

DAILY SPECIAL, "New York steak with roasted potatoes, vegetables and Southwest mushroom demi glace ($24.95).
For his entree, he ordered the daily special which was the New York steak. The steak is perfectly medium rare as requested and has a perfect charred crust. When the entree arrived, we were expecting a smaller portion and this is a good quality steak at an amazing price as well as one of the better ones we have had (including fine dining). The steak tastes tender, very juicy and is full of flavour. The reduction tastes very rich too but not heavy or salty. On my revisit, I will definitely make sure to call ahead of time to find out when the steak is a daily special. The sides are also very consistent with the rack of lamb; the exact same presentation, selection and portion.

TOTAL: $132.00 + TIP $23.00 = $155.00.

The both of us were stuffed at the end of dinner and I really wanted to order dessert! If I have a great experience overall my rule is to always order dessert, no matter how full I am. Amici offers traditional Italian desserts but I kind of wanted a plain cheesecake and had to pass. I was also sad because BF did not want dessert too but I really wanted to order one.

Photo of the interior before the lights went a bit brighter.
In the end, my experience at Amici is so hard to explain. Every dish feels like it was made from love and the chef is proud to serve his food. When I hear similar thoughts like that, I think what the heck does that even mean? Either the food is amazing, good or not. But at Amici, it feels like the owner welcomed us into his home and said "relax, take your time and enjoy the food". I felt like we were guests in someone's home and the host wanted to show us what good food is. This is not even praising about a non rushed dinner, it is about the staff actually wanting us to enjoy the food and our time!

- Classic Italian cuisine
- Relaxing and welcoming atmosphere
- Great food and good portions
- Humble owners and staff, people who care

- Restaurant is far for those who are not in the area

- My original choice was Carmelo's but at the last minute something about Amici lured me in. I still want to visit Carmelo's and hope the restaurant is just as good, food and service wise
- $10.00 off coupon is currently available on their website

Food: 4/5
Service: 4.5/5

Amici on Urbanspoon



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