Review: Amici Ristorante Italiano
Posted in the Tucson Forum
#1 Jul 19, 2009
For the sake of all that is wonderful and special about Italian cooking and specifically its wonderful use of olive oil, do not eat here!
On first sight the decor was contemporary with hints of Italian traditional style. Yet the tablecloths were vinyl bastardization on the classic red and white checkered motif. Your first clue that something was not quite right is that hundreds of dollars were spent on the cute light fixtures, but there isn't a real tablecloth to be seen. The menu was fairly long with seemingly good variety, yet on closer inspection there were typos on every page.
When we received our water...noses wrinkled and lips turned down at the taste of charcoal and dust in the tap water.
The wine list was barely a list at all, merely about 3 or 4 whites and 4 reds, none of which sounded good for over $8 per glass.
As an appetizer we ordered Bruschetta with tomatoes, capers and kalamata olives amongst other ingredients. What we received was barely toasted bread that was topped with an agreeable balance of tomatoes, balsamic and oil that was nicely spiced. But wait...where are the capers, and where are the olives? It was not that we just got the top of the tomato mix, there was not a hint of either to be found anywhere in the dish. The cheese that was too lightly sprinkled over the dish had no flavor; it was completely indistinguishable and unremarkable. This may have been due to the fact that we had to search to find hardly any of it on the plate at all.
The so-called homemade bread in all reality looked like and tasted like the loaves that you can buy in a can at the grocery.
For entrees we ordered the Chicken Parmesan ($17) and the Veal Marsala ($20). Both of the entrees were served warm but not even close to steaming. The Marsala sauce smothered but the veal cutlets and the spaghetti that accompanied the dish. The cutlets were not tender as advertised, but chewy and difficult to swallow. The thick Marsala sauce barely tasted of any Marsala wine, or anything else at all for that matter. After about two minutes I sat and watched in amazement as the sauce before me separated into pools of oil and globules of gravy. After four minutes there was almost a centimeter of oil oozing all over the bottom of my plate, and then I stared at our waitress in astonishment when she asked how everything tasted. I felt saturated with oil and no matter how much water I drank or bread I ate, the oil persisted to stay firmly in my mouth for an hour afterwards.
This place is overpriced and all of the food seemed not fresh in the least (with the exception of the bruschetta). Do yourself a favor and do not even bother wasting your money here. Trust me; there are many other Italian restaurants in Tucson that you can get a wonderful, enjoyable meal for the same prices.
#2 Jul 19, 2009
Skip to the ******** unless you want a full account of the experience from my perspective.
Having grown up near a predominantly Italian town in NY I was excited when a couple of close friends insist that I try Amici's traditional Italian fare. Upon entering the restaurant I was greeted by a friendly hostess that led myself and my date to a quiet booth table, we were provided waters and left to examine our surroundings and the menu. The ambiance is a mix of modern and traditional Italian that comes off quite well, though the cheap vinyl checkered table cloths seemed a bit out of place. Nevertheless it was a soothing atmosphere just right for a date.
As I examined the menu I took a sip of the water, instantly an involuntary cringe came to my face. Tucson does not have the most appetizing tap water, and that should have been the first indication to me that the chef's palate may not have been up to snuff. We asked to try the "home made" bread, and certainly found that there was something familiar and comforting about it, so the water went far from my mind.
The lack of choice in the wine menu led us to order lemonades as there was not a cup of iced tea to be had. We decided on the bruschetta to tame our appetites while we decided on entrees. When it came we were both pleased enough with the mix of oil and balsamic on the fresh tomatoes to care that the bread was not crispy at all. It was time to order dinner.
My date ended up ordering the Veal Marsala, while I had the Chicken Parmesan. The plates were delivered within ten minutes of our order, with nary a strand of steam to show the work put into our meals. I dived into my Chicken with enthusiastic hunger and was instantly confronted with a dilemma. All of the ingredients for a great savory Marinara were present (with a noted lack of garlic) but the copious amount of Salt was too much for me to handle. All of my enthusiasm for the meal instantly deflated as I pushed marinara from the breadless chicken and dull plastic like cheese. I look to my date and she too has an unmistakable frown on her face. I’ll let her tell you about her dish. We politely exchanged how we weren't that hungry after all, and asked for the check. It turned out to be $60 (Mind you this is for only one shared appetizer, two entrees, and two fountain drinks... and tip.)
Once we left we realized two key phenomena. The Bruschetta which we ordered came sans the advertised capers and Kalamata olives, and we finally put our finger on the bread mystery. We discussed how it was good but oddly familiar. Being college students we're no strangers to hasty dinner preparation (though we're pretty proficient now) and corner cutting, we realized that their bread had an eerily similar consistency and flavor to that of Pillsbury french loaf (about the same size too.) Needless to say we were flabbergasted that the only things we liked at Amici's were tainted. She left 3/4 of her plate there and I only brought my half home so my cousin, who graduated from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, could taste this tragedy.
******* Overall these people provided us with an exceptionally substandard Italian meal. The Marsala sauce had no flavor but oil, and the Marinara was created by someone with a severe salt addiction. The bruschetta came minus two of the ingredients, and the water was enough to make you wonder if they were pumping it from the Rillito. Their homemade Italian loaf is the equivalent to something that could be bought in a can. All of that combined was enough to make me never want to return nor recommend, but the bill put the proverbial nail in the coffin. I didn't know whether to feel bad or insulted that such a travesty could cost me around $50 a person with wine. Either they have no idea how bad their food is, or they assume we don't have a palate. Seriously, Olive Garden looks like five star cuisine compared to this.
#3 Jul 24, 2009
For the sake of all that is wonderful and special about Italian cooking and specifically its wonderful use of olive oil, please try this new restaurant! My husband and I are not college students from Tempe but average patrons of new restaurants. We go for the food. And Amici is a restaurant that we will definitely return to. The “tastes of Italy” abound at Amici and I want to try more of the entrees.
This restaurant was amazing. I have recommended it to anyone and everyone who has walked my way. The atmosphere is simple yet elegant in the Italian way. The staff is young and eager to please and the couple who own the place are extremely friendly. Antonio, the chef, came out and checked on our reaction to THE FOOD. We assured him it was wonderful.
I had decided to order Penne Rustica, one of my favorites, but wanted to try something new and wasn’t disappointed. I ordered the Penne Norcina ($12.99), Penne pasta with Italian sausage and roasted red peppers served in a spicy marinara cream sauce, and it was magnificent. The portion was huge and I took more than half home to satisfy my craving for that wonderful taste later. The creamy and spicy marinara sauce was the best I have tasted from Pennsylvania to Italy to Tucson. My husband ordered the Scallopina Valdostana, tender veal topped with Provolone cheese, ham and served in a white wine sauce ($18.99). Again, the sauce was unique and worthy of plate licking.
Cinisello Balsamo, Italy
#4 Jul 26, 2009
I have lived for half of my life in Italy, and I strongly disagree with first 2 reviews! I am totally in shock after reading them. How can you compare the Olive Garden to an authentic italian restaurant? The only thing that comes to my mind is that probably you have never been to Italy. A few questions come to my mind: first of all, after the waitress came and asked if everything was ok, why wasn't she informed of the problem? I think it honestly would have been more polite than writing what you did. Did the owner have a chance to make things right? Really, I have been there and it seems to me that you a talking about a total different restaurant!
I reccomend this restaurant to anyone who wants their meal prepared by a REAL italian and especially someone who makes real ITALIAN food!
#5 Jul 29, 2009
I very much agree with the post above. I had nothing but a positive experience at Amici's restaurant. I went there with my family and everyone loved their meals. We ordered the scaloppini of some sort, the chicken parmiagana as well as the gnocci gargonzola and everything was nothing short of finger licking.
If you're concerned about the water, clearly you haven't tasted Tucson's water, let alone Tempe's water. I believe that Tempe's water tastes quite worse than Tucson's anyways. But if you're concerned with the water, as said above, order sparkling water or perhaps a wine, an italian beer, or any sort of soft drink.
Antonio graced us with his presence at the end of the meal to make sure we enjoyed everything and was even open to critiques!(Even though we did not have any to give besides positive remarks.)
The prices are very fair, especially for the quality of food that you get, I hardly believe that you can get that quality of veal for anything less that $30 at any other restaurant.
At the end of the meal, we ordered the Tiramisu (who wouldn't want to at an italian restaurant?) but I have never had better! It simply melted in your mouth and was exquisite in taste.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is looking for a friendly "out of Italy" experience or just looking for good food!
#6 Aug 3, 2009
We have had 2 great experiences at Amici Ristorante Italiano since it opened in July. Once was for a lunch on the first week it opened and I ordered one of the specials and it was robust with flavor of fresh basil, sundried tomatoes and olive oil. The lunch experience took longer than normal as I wanted to make sure I made every possible tastebud experince the flavors! Antonio, "Neno", came out from the kitchen to see how I liked what I ordered and told me to come back again and order some of the standard items on the menu as so many of those are "special" beyond the specials of the day! His wife, Kori, came by and wanted an honest critique as they had been in their "soft" opening, trying to work out any kinks before they did much marketing. I honestly could tell her that it was truly a wonderful meal.
Later we came back with the family to celebrate my husband's birthday. That night I made sure I narrowed down my order to one of the usual menu items and loved the very fresh & tender chicken breast with mushrooms and marinara sauce. however, the surprising taste delsight was the side of spinach and carrots which didn't sound like a special item when offered as an option, but the side was really amazing with rich flavors --highly recommend that!
We ended the meal with the Italian lemon liquor and an order of taramisu and a carmalized custard (can't remember the name of it) and both were delicious.
This is a lovely hidden treasure for Tucson to bring some of true Italian cooking to our city in a comfortable setting in the middle of town. Antonio are working hard to launch this family-owned restaurant in our city and I hope all will visit them at the Campbell Plaza on Campbell & Glenn. If patrons have feedback to give them to improve, they are certainly wanting to please the customer and make their experience a pleasent one!
#7 Aug 3, 2009
I've eaten there several times. I plan on going back.
#8 Aug 3, 2009
You're not skipping school are you Ferris?
#9 Aug 3, 2009
I had lunch at Amici's last month and loved the place. The service as friendly and the food was delish! I had the Caprise Salad, which had fresh, flavorful tomatoes and smooth mozzarella cheese. My entree was gnochi w/ pesto. The portion was so big I couldn't finish it, so I took half home for dinner. I would like to try the gnochi w/ gorgonzola cream sauce on my next visit -- and there will be a next visit. I really enjoyed Amici and think you will to. Check it out!
#10 Aug 5, 2009
I, too, had a wonderful meal.
This place is a gem!
#11 Sep 25, 2009
I ate at Amici this evening. The service was good but a little hovering. The veal in the veal piccata was tough. There was also too much sauce on it. I left most of it.The marinara sauce on the spaghetti was also too plentiful. My dining partner called attention to the toughness of the veal as well as the fact that she found a hair in her food which was not hers. No effort was made to compensate for that. There is a limited wine selection but the wine we had was fine.
The dessert was also ok. We both like Italian food and have eaten in all of the Italian restaurants in tucson as well as many in NYC and Italy. We independently decided that we would not return here for dinner.
#12 Nov 17, 2009
This is a very good little Italian restuarant on Tucson's "restaurant row" - Campbell Ave (near Glenn St). I won't even pretend to describe the food as some of the others have, other than to say that it was tasteful and plenty. The food was not too salty, and the sauce was rich. While there was a limited wine selection, there was enough of it to wash down the food. And, we didn't go there for the water either. While the chef didn't come to visit us, the server was friendly and attentive.$72 (including tip) for 3 glasses of wine, a shared appetizer, and two entrees. You decide wheteher that's too much money.
#13 Jan 7, 2010
I will NEVER go back to this restaurant. I ordered off there daily special menu and my father ordered an Italian sausage penne dish. The food was OK, not worth the $14 they charged us and our service was terrible. After we were seated it took our waiter 10 minutes to take our drink order and then returned only to say he was busy and would come back later. After our waiter finally returned to take our order, he fumbled around for a pen and was short with both of us. Our food came a short while later and while it was fine, it wasn't anything special. When we were finished with our meal, we received our check, which was incorrect. They had overcharged for my meal, and when this was brought to our waiters attention (not in a rude way, rather a "hey this is wrong, can you fix it before you charge my card?" sort of way) our waiter gave my father a dirty look and took the check to investigate. Another waiter or his manager came back to our table and explained that they had mispriced my daily special meal on their board, and that I would have to pay the correct price, which was more. In other words, they screwed up and they wanted us to pay for it. It was a small amount more, but it was the way they had handled the situation. Customer service is obviously not their high point.
#14 Jan 11, 2010
This restaurant is unique, and charming, and wonderful! It is not expensive, but it is good! Nino, the owner, is a delightful little man with the thickest accent. Couldn't pick a better place to get Italian in Tucson. Try it! Try the spaghetti alla vongole.
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