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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Unremarkable Amici hidden for a reason

    Julia Child was known for her dislike of Italian food — not for the cuisine itself but for how simple it was to prepare. She didn’t think it took the technical mastery that French cooking did. However, if Italian food is supposed to be easy, then Amici Ristorante Italiano did not get the memo. The tiny restaurant is unimpressive and far too expensive for any college student to even  bother considering for a dinner date.

    Tucked behind Sauce and Old Chicago at Campbell Avenue and Glenn Street, the cutely decorated restaurant looks promising upon entering. My boyfriend and I were greeted promptly but were seated at a drafty table. Only after five minutes did we see our server. We were not informed of the special, and the wait for bread was an additional few minutes.

    However, our sub-par experience was nothing compared to that of the couple who entered only moments after us. Seated promptly but left alone for at least 10 minutes, the couple’s entire meal was delivered quite some time after ours. Their displeasure could be seen by anyone dining in their vicinity. If only the food could make up for the service.

    The menu at Amici is relatively standard, but its prices are much too high for what’s offered. Appetizers cost from $7 to $9, with salads priced only $1 less. Pasta dishes are between $14 and $18, and the price of entrees is between $15 and $20. The hefty price for simple pasta dishes was disheartening, and the price tag for the meatier entrees made ordering them completely unreasonable.

    Were the food good, then maybe the prices would be understandable, but it was not. Our meal began with dry bread and no butter or dipping oil. With each entrée, we had the choice of soup or salad, but our server did not mention the soups in any detail. The salad, which consisted of two tomatoes, lettuce and some onions doused in balsamic vinegar, was unremarkable but, sadly, the best part of the meal.

    We ordered cheese tortellini with a pesto and marinara sauce blend and the penne rustica — a mix of chicken and vegetables served over pasta. The food was served hot and presented nicely, but from the first smell we could tell we were going to be disappointed.

    Bland is the only word to describe our meals. The tortellini sauce lacked seasoning and had none of the sweet or savory flavors we expected from marinara sauce or pesto. The basil was undetectable, although the thyme came through in a rather strong and unpleasant way. The cheese tortellini was so drenched in the subpar sauce that its flavor was essentially undistinguishable.

    The penne rustica had absolutely no flavor. The grilled chicken tasted unseasoned and the vegetables — a blend of artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes — were dull. Were it not for the bit of flavor in the sundried tomatoes, it would have been hard to say what was in the dish.

    I found myself so put off by the entrees that I did not order any of the $5 desserts to end the night. In the back of the restaurant a coffee pot sat on a hot-plate giving off steam and the smell of scorched coffee. The idea of ending the meal with that smell only took away from the appetite that had not been fulfilled by our meals. There was no redemption in the cards for Amici.

    The restaurant not only had overpriced, unsatisfactory food but fees were lurking around every corner. To split any plate of food there was a $4 fee. And, if you were hoping to come in a group and dine together but pay separately, think again. Amici does not split checks.

    Although there seems to be an older crowd of regulars who flock to Amici, UA students should beware. You are much better off with Olive Garden unless bland is your favorite flavor.

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