Amici Bar & Grill / 242 Atwells Ave / Providence, RI, 02903 / (401)-490-0409.
Amici Bar & Grille was on my radar before it even opened (the official grand opening was January 24, 2011). I was drawn to exterior’s bright yellow & red colors and location in the heart of Providence’s Italian neighborhood, Federal Hill.
Amici, the Italian word for “friends”, is exactly what “the hill” needed. An urban, hip restaurant that not only served food, but also provided nightlife.
I knew my partner, Melanie, and I were in for a treat the second we stepped inside last week for dinner. The interior is as inviting as the exterior with it’s electrifying black, red & gold decor. Modern dance music was playing, the bar was hopping and the setting was alive and buzzing. Mix this with the glorious smell of a wood fired brick ovan and you have sensory overload!
We were greeted and shown to our seat by our waiter for the evening, the adorably charismatic “Chino”. Chino is instantly loveable and takes care of your every need. His smile will win over anyone he comes in contact with, this I guarantee you! Chino meticulously (and with obvious great pride), went over the evening’s specials which were among the most unique I had ever heard. This comes as no surprise as the restaurant is owned by restaurateur Gianfranco Marrocco who owns some of the most popular restaurants in Providence including, Mediterraneo Caffe and Caffe Dolce Vita. As the evening progressed I would come to not only be thankful to Gianfranco Marrocco for opening another great establishment, but also partnering with chef Gianfranco Campanella, whose food proved to be sinfully delicious.
Melanie & I decided to go all out with our orders and try what we wanted. We would deal with the guilt and our gym penance later. Right now we had to get down to the serious business of eating delicious food!
For an appetizer Melanie chose their Spring Salad(mixed field greens set over grilled asparagus with pistachio and goat cheese encrusted seedless grapes. Finished with cranberry vinaigrette – $12) and I chose their Margherita Pizza (Amici house San Marzano pizza sauce, fresh Roma tomatoes, house-made fresh mozzarella & fresh basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil – $13).
The uniqueness of Melanie’s salad showed the creativity of the chef. She said the flavor of the grapefruit served with the salad, blended perfectly with the goat cheese encrusted grapes. Melanie knows salad, like I know carbs, and she was extremely impressed.
There are way too many superlatives I could use to describe the Margherita Pizza, but OH. MY. GOD pretty much sums it up. The crunch! The taste! The smell! The freshness! There was nothing common about this very common pizza. The pizza dough managed to be crispy and airy at the same time, but let’s be honest, pizza is all about the sauce, and Amici’s sauce would make any Italian grandmother proud. Truly one of the best pizzas I have every had.
Just as we sent our pizza leftovers to be wrapped up, out came our entrees.
The menu offered so many unique options, including sushi, that I know in the future I will try, however on this evening I was in the mood for pasta, and there was one dish I knew I had to try, their Gnocchi Ripieni Alla Sorrentina (ricotta filled potato dumplings prepared in a plum tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella & Pecorino-Romano cheese & baked in their authentic wood-burning oven – $18). I have been on this quest to find Rhode Island’s best gnocchi. I am happy to report, the search has ended, but more on that in a bit.
Melanie ordered the Fusilli Alla Vodka (San Marzano tomato sauce laced with premium vodka, a touch of cream, pancetta, & Pecorino-Romano cheese – $16).
I believe a symphony went off with my first bite of Gnocchi. Each component, the homemade pasta, the sauce, the mozzarella were dutifully fresh. I was amazed at the size of the gnocchi. They were the largest I had ever had and literally melted in your mouth. I knew it was the best I ever had when I fought my compulsion to finish the entire serving so that I could bring the leftovers to my mother to try!
I could tell as I looked over at Melanie, the vodka sauce queen, that she was thoroughly impressed also. I, of course, had to try a bite. I said to her, “How am I going to explain how delicious this food is in my article?” At that moment, the manager stopped by to check in on us. I repeated the same words to him and his response, with a big smile, was, “Sometimes simplicity is best.” So true.
Damn. Good. Food. How’s that?
During our food ecstasy, Chino made sure we never wanted for drink refills. He was extremely attentive and informative. He explained how the restaurant provides a DJ and dancing Friday and Saturday nights in their back room. We also discussed how they are in the planning stages of starting a “gay” night on Sundays.
Could this place be any better?
Oh, yes. I haven’t told you about dessert.
Yes, that’s right – dessert. Despite the fact that we hadn’t come close to finishing our entrees, I still had to order dessert.
They didn’t have your typical cheesecake and tiramisu on the menu. No. Instead they offered unique options such as Ricotta & Cinnamon Fritters, Creme Brulee Trio and, what we decided on, Pizzetta Dolce (A caramelized crust topped with honey-scented mascarpone, Nutella, banana & dark chocolate shavings – $12). We also ordered a side of Hazelnut Gelato to go with it.
I love Nutella and have pretty much eaten it on everything, but I had never had the combo of Nutella with honey, mascarpone & banana before. Honestly, how could it have been anything BUT delicious? I mean really, right? We’re talking Nutella here! Each bite was accentuated with the Hazelnut Gelato. Pure perfection.
Our dining experience was truly a 10 out of 10. Best of all, we had tons of leftovers, which meant we got to share the experience with others. Everyone who took part in our leftover feast said the same thing — indescribably delicious.
Before we left, Chino took us on a tour of the restaurant’s back room, which gave off a NYC nightclub vibe. It is beautifully decorated with glowing, warm lights, red & black decor and a bar. They move the tables at night to make room for the DJ & dancing. They are hoping to get a resident DJ, and, as mentioned earlier, start “gay” night on Sundays.
Everything about Amici Bar & Grille is a winner in my book. The location, decor, staff, vibe and food are second to none.
GOOD TO KNOW:
* Amici Bar & Grille is open for lunch on Saturday’s & Sundays!
* Amici Bar & Grille dining hours: Monday-Thursday (5pm-1am); Friday-Saturday (5pm-2am) and Sunday (5pm-1am).
* DJ & Dancing Friday & Saturday (and soon) Sundays.
* Free valet parking!
* Alfresco dining!
* Located in the heart of Providence’s historic Federal Hill.
* Seating for up to 100 guests and two spacious bars.
* Innovative menu.
* Join Amici Bar & Grille’s text club! Text 411669 to receive 20% off your bill!
* Start your night off right! Every Friday & Saturday night from 10-12am, After Dark Promotions brings you a sexy, upscale atmosphere where your second drink is always complimentary and all wood grilled pizzas are 50% off!
Gay & Lesbian Factor: It is safe to say that Amici Bar & Grille is going above & beyond to reach out to the LGBT community. With their idea to start a “gay themed” dance night on Sundays and enthusiasm for being listed on our blog, Gay Travel Information, it is clear that this is soon to become a Providence LGBT hot spot for sure!
I am hereby “OUTING” Amici Bar & Grille as gay & lesbian friendly & worthy of our business.
Amici Bar & Grille is truly a NIGHT (or afternoon) OUT! Relax at the bar & have a few drinks. Enjoy dinner. Listen to music. Dance. Enjoy the location. The secret is getting out what a fantastic addition this is to the restaurant/nightclub scene in Providence.
See you on Sundays!