Located within the South of Fifth district just steps in the beach, Amare Ristorante opened up on Thursday, Feb. 28, offering artfully prepared Southern Italian fare inside a glamorous setting that evokes la grande bellezza of Italy's famed Amalfi coast.
Amare's expansive menu includes classic dishes made in-house with seasonal ingredients flown from Italy. The restaurant is a long awaited collaboration between restaurateur Gino Iovino, who owns award-winning restaurant Girasole in Atlantic City, along with Franco Ricatti and Chef Cosimo Cassano of Bacco Osteria, the Michelin-starred concept in Puglia, Italy.
Amare's design pays homage to its Amalfi coast roots, having a main dining area awash in azure, white andcoral hues inspired by the Bay of Naples, combined with authentic design elements including intricate, hand-painted ceramic tiles flown in from Naples. Upon entering, guests face the arched 12 seated bar located in the core room. To the left, nestled in the corner may be the Neapolitan espresso bar and Dolci Station, and also to the right is an intimate dining area featuring seating for approximately 54 guests. Against the walls, abstract wooden shelves lead the attention upwards for the ceiling, that is decorated with white chiffon fabric in symbolic waves as golden pendant fixtures protrude to cast a comfortable dim glow. Outside, Amare is enhanced with a lushly landscaped terrace blooming with bougainvillea and lemon trees, in a relaxing lounge setting that invites diners to take views from the bustling South Beach scene. Accommodating 118 guests, the tables feature hand painted ceramic tiles encompassed by teak with white mesh chairs.
The restaurant welcomes guests from early morning, whenever a la carte homemade pastries and coffee beverages can be found, to night time. Under the direction of Chef Cassano, Amare's menu stays true to the
time-honored dishes found throughout the small towns and villages along the Italian coastline. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are highlighted in Amare's carpaccio and tartar selections, salads, artisanal pasta dishes, and entrees from both land and sea. Highlights include Carpaccio ($18), such as the Tonno, yellowfin
tuna with avocado, pear, lemon and mint, or Funghi, warm, thinly sliced filet mignon with oyster, shiitake and porcini mushrooms; Spaghetti($36), an award-winning Pasta di Gragnano with one-pound Maine lobster, datterino tomato and Calabrian chili; Branzino al Sale($44), whole Salt-baked Mediterranean SeaBass and Agnello al Moscato di Trani ($48) grilled Colorado lamb chops, moscato wine, potatoes and fresh herbs.
The restaurant also offers guests I Classici Settimanali, an additional special dish offered eventually each week, which includes classics like Lasagna di Mare, layers of housemade artisanal lasagna, fish ragu, mascarpone and lightweight tomato sauce; Tiella Frutti di Mare, a pan-baked black rice with octopus, shrimp, squid, zucchini, onion and potatoes; and traditional family-style Sunday Dinner with Rigatoni Pasta di Gragnano Spicy Italian Sausage Ragu, Beef Braciola and Pork Ossobuco.
Amare's bar area offers a separate menu of small bites for example Branzino Ceviche ($22), a Mediterranean and beyond bass with pineapple, onions, jalapeno and cilantro; Polpettina ($8), meatball sliders with bell pepper, olives and capers; and Casarecce ($7), Tuscan kale pesto, almonds, brussels sprouts and mushrooms. A bar program featuring handcrafted cocktails, aperitivi and digestivi, along with a robust wine list complements Amare's fare, as well as for a sweet finish, the bustling Dolci Station treats guests to latte arte, or “the art of milk,” offering homemade pastries, specialty cakes and desserts made fresh daily, a selection of imported formaggi, and occasional beverages brewed at the espresso bar.