amici bar & grille; providence review (stupid long)
went for a light dinner early, @ 6:00 on a tuesday. quite a few tables were occupied as well as cocktail hour bar folks. atmosphere is typical federal hill, trying too hard to be NYC or something, service was passable..servers chowing down on cold pizza at bar service station is gross IMO. the food was excellent. DH & i shared surf & turf carpaccio for 1st course- beautifully presented w/ arugula, caperberries, wonton crisps ("medditerasian") and the star of the dish, kalamata & pistachio tapenade. i spotted shiso leaves elswhere on the app menu, so i requested a couple w/ the arugula and our server had no idea what i was talking about, but eventually accommodated me. we then shared the pork alentejana entree which is a traditional portugese stew of pork (what i'm familiar with as "blade meat", but that's another thread altogether), clams, potatoes, and chorico in a spicy and garlicky sauce. this is perhaps one of the most deftly prepared dishes i've had of late. what i would have been ok with is the homey version of this dish i've always had- greasy, spicy, pork-fatty and gut busting. what i enjoyed was a respectfully elevated and refined interpretation with lean but meltingly tender pork bits, perfectly steamed littlenecks and broth soaked potatoes. it was lovely. we honestly probably won't be back in for dinner anytime soon. the cocktail menu is amateurish at best, wines "by-the-glass" are non-descript, and the service is not at the level i expect at the menu's price point, but i can definitely see some serious i'm-not-turning-the-oven-on takeout over the summer!
My wife and I agreed with the essence of your review. A couple of months ago, we went to Federal Hill and finding the restaurant we planned to attend too crowded, we "settled" for Amici.
We were very dubious looking at the menu (which packs in everything from Italian to sushi and several genres in between) but we had to admit that everything we ordered was attractive, creative, and very tasty. We actually asked ourselves if we just felt that way because we had no expectations, but no, everything was really, authentically excellent.
You're correct that the young servers aren't top notch, but our food certainly was and we thought that, avoiding drinks, the prices were quite reasonable.
We'll definitely be heading back!
Been wondering about this place. This post prompted me to go check out their website. I shot boogers out my nose when I saw their wine markup. That's possibly the worst price-gauging I've ever seen in RI.
I buy wine wholesale for a living; I know what these bottles cost down to the penny. I hate places that rip people off, and Amici is a prime example.
Somewhat off topic, I must say that worse than restaurants in this regard are caterers. Oh my goodness. For my wedding several years ago we ended up using a venue that had an exclusive relationship with W. Puck catering and they charged us something rediculous like $40 a bottle for wines that I routinely bought myself for under $15. I threatened to scuttle the entire wedding arrangement we had with them based on just that markup alone and we eventually agreed on an arrangment where we didn't buy wine from them but were allowed to bring in a few bottles on our own for the "ceremonial purposes only" and not guests. Amazing...
Back on topic, note that my small review mentioned we didn't buy alcohol that night :).
This topic of excessive wine mark-up is for me like "slowly I turned" I just retired from the hospitality industry after 29 years. In our restaurant, the wine list was extremely important to us and our customers...there were several who could afford to and did spend 75.00 for bottles like a 1997 Chateau Montelena cabernet; most people want that bottle from 30-35 dollars, and, there are several terrific values out there...one does not have to spend a fortune to enjoy a good bottle; more importantly, the educated consumer KNOWS what a wine store or restaurant pays wholesale; and, when I go out to dinner and AM a consumer, I find it seriously annoying when there are perhaps a few choices under forty dollars, and, the rest of the list is of wines that I know are priced at 10-15 dollars more than they SHOULD cost. Basically, restaurants that do this sabotage themselves...they kind of bully the diner into wine by the glass...I thought the whole purpose of a well chosen wine list was to encourage people to buy a bottle and enjoy it.
I know the chef there and he is one of the owners also. Its too bad he an excellent Italian Chef. I saw the menu and they are all over the place Cant figure out how Sushi blends with Italian/brick oven pizza. Plus Chinese blended foods. The hill is getting more and more Fusion/Confusion. Glad the Burbs have some nice easy places to try.