Friday, February 12, 2010

Amis Trattoria

412 South 13th Street, Philadelphia

Amis is Marc Vetri's third restaurant in Philly that opened last month. Compared to his first two, Osteria and Vetri, Amis has a more casual, neighborhood vibe with palatable prices and Italian cuisine with Roman influence.

Amis has a warm and cozy atmosphere with butcher block-like tables, an open kitchen with a counter for dining, a small bar and large windows overlooking 13th Street.

Our server was incredibly knowledgable and professional and described the menu superbly. The wine list was completely unfamiliar but our server simply asked what we liked and confidently replied she had something we would love. I'm always skeptical when a complete stranger claims to know I'll LOVE something. Fortunately, she wasn't too far off.

The menu encourages sharing but it's not required. Portions are well-sized. Unlike at Vetri, you don't leave hungry.

Plates from the left side of the menu are intended as starters. We had a seafood misto, which was deep fried shrimp and sardines (top). Think tempura style. The shrimp were not peeled and still had legs and tails. The sardines were reported as "a little fishy". So I didn't go there. Next (right) we had brushetta with eggplant. Nice flavor, mild. The bread is soaked in olive oil and grilled. Jacks up the roof of your mouth. And, another brushetta (bottom) with ricotta and olive oil. Again, mild and light. A girlfriend had dined here before and recommended we get the Artichokes - whole artichokes flash fried...twice. My arteries will never be the same. The girlfriends liked it. I thought it was just okay.

Choosing an entree was tricky. There were many items with strange and unappetizing sounding names like pork jowel, fried tongue, tripe... I'm just not that adventurous. One girlfriend had rigatoni with swordfish in a red sauce and eggplant fries (below). That was not a typo...eggplant fries. They rocked! Lightly crispy on the outside and super soft on the inside. And, they kind of tasted like a french fry! That dish was very nice, not sweet, good chunks of swordfish and tangy tomatoes.

I opted for the "comfort" food and had the tocconelli pasta, which is similar to spaghetti, with pecorino and black pepper. S.A.L.T.Y. It was so salty I couldn't eat that much. I could feel myself bloating instantly. But, the other g's weren't bothered by it. The gnocchi with oxtail ragu was rated very good, as was the buccotini with pork jowl, which was barely spicy and very salty.

But, hands down, the belgium waffle dessert with nutella and hazelnut ice cream was the winner. We should have ordered more. The pear torte was very mild and lightly sweet. Not a bad ender, but not as good as the waffle.

As one girlfriend said, it will be interesting to see how they change the menu for the summer. This was clearly a winter selection.

And a word to the calorie counters. Don't bother. They don't even carry skim milk for cappuccinos.
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