Amici Restaurant is a gem of a restaurant. A write up in the Minnesota Monthly by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl lead me there. Now, Dara is a professional food writer and some one whose writing I admire. She has flare. She has style. She is like a bon vivant of words. On the subject of Amici Pizza and Bistro I would like to recommend it, even if you don’t live in Nordeast.
Why, you wonder, would I think I know more than Dara? (What nerve. Right?) The service, the interior and the food were just what this city needs. Something of a neighborhood Italian “restaurante” with a menu, that anyone might enjoy. We were served bread with butter. It was tasty. (One suggestion from my friend is that they might want to serve olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.)
The appetizers we ordered were beautiful to look at (very important to me). Choosing from the appetizer menu I had Baked Goat Cheese – topped with toasted almond, grape compote served with crostini. The grape compote was so luscious over the goat cheese, accompanied by fresh basil leaf on top of the toasted crostini. This was a build your own appetizer. My first bite was a moment in time to remember. It was sweet and savory. (Ha-cha cha cha!) The order was ample enough for two people.
My dinner companion had the Bruschetta of oil cured tomatoes and whipped ricotta which was served on two large slices of Italian bread. It dazzled the eye – gleaming red and white. Reported as very good.
For the main course I had the oven-roasted chicken served with parsnip potato puree and red wine reduction. It was prepared with attention and presented well. The chicken had a subtle flavor. The parsnip potato puree was creamy and the reduction completed a circle with roasted asparagus. It was delectable. My friend had the Rigatoni with the Butcher Shop Bolognese sauce and I tasted that. This rigatoni and sauce reminded me of the flavors of Italian food that I enjoyed as a kid growing up in the East. (Mama Mia! What a sauce.) It was not top heavy with tomato. The flavors make you sit up and take notice. The Butcher shop Bolognese sauce was made with ground pork, lamb and veal, in equal parts and tomatoes with basil. There were other herbs that were the reminder of my childhood dinners. (On special occasions the family went out to eat Italian.)
I am not going to wax poetic about the food, because you can go there. They do have build your own pizza and a kiddos menu. They serve wine and beer. Dine in or take out. The service was well paced and cordial, not over bearing. The interior reminded me of a place I used to go for Calzone on Solano Avenue in Berkeley California – warm and friendly – comfortable booths. Plus, I could have a conversation. The place was half full when we arrived and completely full when we left. This is contemporary Italian food. It was delicious.
Amici Pizza and Bistro is worth more than one visit even if you live in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area and not in Nordeast. It was a ten-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. Don’t take my word for it; try it.
Link: http://www.amiciusa.com/ August 9, 2010.
2851 Johnson St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Enjoy! Your comments and recipes are welcome.