We visited Amicci’s, “a very casual eatery” in “Little Italy” with a group of friends on a Saturday night. (“Amicci” is not the name of the family that founded the restaurant; it’s the Italian word which means “friends” and reflects that the two friends founded the restaurant.) Amicci’s web page brags about it being the “place to go for cheap eats” in Little Italy. Surrounded by other Little Italy well known destinations like Caesar’s Den, Chiperelli’s, Sabatino’s and Germano’s, the restaurant looked small but we discovered that the narrow space on High Street was unexpectedly deep and the restaurant was far bigger than we suspected. While the dining room on the first floor seem pleasant and bright, we ended up being seated on the the 2nd floor in a plain, beige painted small room with ten tables topped with plastic coated decorative print tablecloths.
Our young waitress greeted us pleasantly and gave us some fresh Italian bread to munch on while we looked over the large menu which includes house or Caesar salad ($5), 5 appetizers ($8-$15), two dozen traditional dishes ($12-$16) including 5 vegetarian pasta dishes, and 10 shrimp dishes ($19-$20). Cards on the table promoting a $25 special including a salad, choice of any entree on the menu, dessert and soft drink got our attention. Both Marty and I eager for a potential bargain opted for the $25 fix price dinner – Marty got Shrimp Fra Diavolo ($20) with a Caesar salad ($5) while John opted for Linguini Luigi (shrimp w/sausage – $19) with a house salad ($5). Other friends decided on Shrimp Fra Diavolo with the Mozzarella & Tomato appetizer ($8) while another went with Lasagna ($15) while two other guys shared the special “Pane Rotundo” appetizer ($15 – shrimp scampi in a creamy sauce served in a round Italian bread “bowl”)
The side salads were a good size and offered good value for the $5. While our friends enjoyed the Mozzarella & Tomato, a few alternating layers of cheese and tomato with a drizzle of balsamic sauce seemed pricey at $8. The Pane Rotundo was humongous (but for $15, it should be!); it had the makings of a big entrée or could be split among 4 people (it looked like it was way too much for just two people!). Marty really like likes hot stuff and he was taken with the Diavolo sauce covering a lot of large shrimp. John’s Linguini Luigi arrived with tiny pieces of mild sausage in the marinara sauce covering half a dozen large shrimp and didn’t deliver the contrast of shrimp and sausage that he expected. The lasagna included a large serving and our friend polished it off and he clearly really enjoyed it.
Our friends who ordered ala carte passed on dessert because they had more than enough to eat. Our special $25 dinner included dessert – but we discovered that there were only two options: carrot cake or a chocolate peanut butter mousse pie. Marty got the cake and thought it was quite good while John enjoyed the pie (but both of us would have preferred a canolli or some fruit sorbet).
We our waitress brought the check, we were surprised when she suggested that we double check the bill. We did and we found our check was about $35 higher than it should have been (which our waitress took care of). Our friend asked for half of his $20+ Fra Diavolo to be bagged up and our waitress misplaced his food merely telling him “Sorry, I don’t know where it went to”. We felt that Amicci’s should have offered to make that up to our friend – but they didn’t. While most of us were happy with our food, the problems with the check and the disappearing “doggy bag” left us all feeling unhappy and disgruntled. FYI – We later checked and found that Amicci’s claims of being a “Little Italy” bargain are questionable – a Side Salad and Chicken Parmigiana at Amicci’s costs $19 – Adjacent restaurants like Chiperelli’s offers the same for $19 and Germano’s for just $17.) With Italian restaurants with as good – or better – food at comparable prices, pleasanter dining rooms and much better service virtually next door, we’d probably won’t be in a rush to return to Amicci’s.
FACTS: Amicci’s (Little Italy); 231 S. High St.; www.amiccis.com ; 410-528-1096; Open 7 days/week for lunch & dinner 11 am – 10 pm (til 12 midnight on Fri/Sat); veggie options. Heads-up! Parking in Little Italy can be challenging specially on weekends! (DiningOUT review published 2010/June)