Amici Miei - any recent reports?
- bellachica Dec 8, 2005 09:29 AM
Has anyone been to Amici Miei in Rockville lately? We're planning on going Saturday and while I have read the reviews from February 2005 on this board - I am wondering if anyone has more recent experience as to what's good, what's not. I am encouraged by Sietsema's reviews (his taste and mine usually click - especially when it comes to simply prepared food) but wanted to get more feedback. Thanks in advance!
We go every month or two - it's 5 minutes from our house, and is better than many destination Italian places in DC or Bethesda.
Appetizers, we like the grilled octopus, carpaccio, or share a pizza. Salads are nice, but not special.
Most of the pastas have been standouts, especially the ravioli (either the veal or the spinach). And you must get grilled fish - fabulously fresh. Haven't really ordered meat dishes, so no advice there.
I am very surprised by this recommendation of Amici Miei. I think the food is very disappointing. The pizza was doughy and had no taste. The "basil" pizza had only one leaf of basil in the middle. The eggplant parm was soggy and the pasta was mealy and also tasteless. The service was nonexistent. Even by surburbia standards, this italian food was sub-par. We will never be back.
I stand by my review from 2 years ago. We continue to go every few months.
Homemade pastas are great, fish is impeccably fresh. This is not "red-sauce Italian" - I wouldn't go for eggplant parm (I don't even ever remember it being on the menu). Pizzas are crisp and tasty. And while I wouldn't call it inexpensive, I find it cheaper than comparable restaurants.
Defintely better than the comparable "upscale Italian" places in Bethesda.
We often go to Il Pinito off Nicholson Lane, which is a very good little Pines-knock-off place (red sauce italian). Last night we headed the other direction to try Amici Mei. It's a relatively new, casual place off Seven Locks Road. Perfect for the suburban neighborhood is occupies. The chef is from Arcola, which was a Roberto Donna outcropping on Connecticut Ave just north of Chevy Chase Circle. It's a big menu of salad, hot apps, a dozen pastas (most homemade) and a handful or two of mains.
It was pretty empty early on a Monday night, and I feared the worst having read a few negative reviews about the service, and as we all know that service issues compound themselves on slow nights. In fact service was terrific. Wine list ran the gamet from $22 to $150. We found a nice 1994 Primitivo for $40, served at just the right temperature in decent glassware.
Fresh grilled sardines on arugula was great, as was the house made bresolata (air dried beef) with mache and parmasean. Fettucini Bolognese tasted perfectly of long cooked, milk mellow veal, a special of homemade pasta with morels and bay scallops was simply seasoned and delightful, plain pasta with tomato sauce was a little astringent, especially compared to Bebo's two days earlier. Cannoli was excellent. Prices were cheap, I think $7-8 for the salads and maybe $12-15 for the pastas (the special pasta was $21).
Although I have enjoyed the place, I do not agree that it is that casual or inexpensive. I would go just for the sardines. In the same price range, I would go to Renato's in Potomac village, for better cooking, and now that it is associated with River Falls Seafood, a larger menu. And, if you like the Pines/Il Pinito, Il Porto on Muddy Branch in Gaithersburg has been my choice recently, although prices there are creeping up - $18 for whole snapper or flounder.
As a frequent diner at both Renato's and Amici Mei, I think I like Amici Mei better. Although for typical italian dishes you can't beat Renato's. Their chicken parmesan is wonderful and big enough for two. The tables are very crowded together at Renato's. Amici Mei has a more open feel. I usually order the fish special when I eat at Amici Mei, and its never disappointed me. I had a wonderful italian nicoise salad at lunch one day - I highly recommend it. My daughter goes crazy for their pasta carbonara and the gnocchi, which she gets with butter and parmesan cheese, and my son likes the pizzas (I agree). I really like the servers at Amici Mei too, they've always been very attentive.