Friday, April 25, 2014

Café Amici

We recently took a family trip to a destination that my family has been traveling to for 25 years - Siesta Key, Florida. After my family bought property there ten years ago, we've tried to go there as much as possible. My wife and I spent part of our Honeymoon there and as we've had kids, we've taken family vacations there to enjoy the world-class beach.

While on a trip there for Easter, we got to enjoy time down there with my entire family. The kids enjoyed spending so much time with their grandparents and aunt. It also allowed us to enjoy something that we haven't experienced in Sarasota in a long time - a date night! We took the suggestion of two very good friends and enjoyed a meal at a great Italian restaurant - Café Amici.

We arrived at the small restaurant around 5:30 on a Monday evening. There was only one other table occupied when we arrived, but a steady flow of patrons came and went while we dined. Our waiter took our drink order while we perused the menu. He also advised of the daily specials. For her antipasto, my wife ordered roasted fresh mozzarella wrapped in Speck ($9). For her entree she went with a classic pasta - Spaghetti alla Carbonara ($22). I chose an antipasto from the daily specials - Burrata with Speck ($14). For my entree, I chose the Bombette al Rosmarino ($22).

After we ordered, we enjoyed the bread brought by the waiter and our wine. My wife selected Li Veli Verdeca ($8), a white wine from Puglia. I opted for a Super Tuscan - 2010 Villa Antinori ($9). My wine was a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. The blackberry and plum fruit went perfectly with both my antipasto and entree.

After a short wait, our antipasti arrived. This was my wife's plate:

The fresh mozzarella wrapped in Speck (smoked prosciutto) was gently warmed through and delightfully chewy. The creamy cheese offered a nice contrast to the smoky, rich meat.

This was my antipasto:

Burrata is a wonderful version of fresh mozzarella where the outer shell of mozzarella surrounds a soft interior of more cheese mixed with cream. This version was fresh, bright and creamy. It balanced the salty and smoky notes of the Speck perfectly and was a great way to start a good meal.

After we had enjoyed our starters, the plates were cleared and we had a short wait until the entrees arrived. First was my wife's pasta:

The dish on the menu listed cappellini as the pasta, but my wife asked it be changed to the more traditional spaghetti. The dish was rich and creamy with the egg and grated cheese. There were flecks of pepper as are traditional as the dish is named after the coal burner. With the delicious pancetta, the pasta was great.

This was my entree:

Bombette are traditional Pugliese street food. They're usually a type of pork braciola stuffed with cheese and typically grilled or seared. This version contained three bombette made of veal that were pan seared and stuffed with asiago cheese. They were slightly over cooked, but were flavorful and rich with melted cheese. They were served with a rich pan sauce that complimented them well, as well as mashed potatoes with rosemary, which was the predominant flavor in both - delicious! The roasted peppers and carrots on the side were also prepared well and flavorful. This dish was filling and appetizing.

It was such a great meal that I didn't think I had room for more. Then we saw the dessert and after dinner drink menu and we couldn't resist. When I saw that they had homemade Limoncello, I knew we had to try it. We also decided to split a piece of the almond cake. 

Here's the Limoncello:

This version of the southern Italian digestivo was made with vodka and was full of sweetness of acidity from the lemon. It was strong and the perfect ending to the meal...along with this:

The almond cake was a riff on tiramisu. It had layers of ladyfingers soaked in amaretto topped with rich and delicious mascarpone cream with hints of almond and lemon. The entire thing was topped with a crunchy almond topping. I like tiramisu, but this may have edged it out as one of the best Italian desserts out there.

All in all, we had a lovely meal with great conversation, good wine and fantastic food. Thanks to Jen and Dan for the suggestion and we'll be back!


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