The food and service were outstanding. We’ll be back to Amici’s. Often. Review and photos by Lyn Dowling. Video by Suzy Fleming Leonard. Uploaded March 12, 2018.
What a happy birthday Amici’s provided for my dining companion, and it wasn’t bad for me, either.
We hadn’t been there recently, having judged it a little inconsistent, but that was a couple of years ago, and so we returned with celebration in mind on a busy Friday evening.
It was crowded as ever, and even though we’d phoned ahead for a table, it took a little while to be seated, but during the wait, and as we were shown to our table and finally served, the service was outstanding, worthy of the adjacent fine dining establishment that is one of the best in Brevard.
So fine was it, in fact, that one of the Chef’s Table servers came over to ask where the Child Gourmet was; he was with us when we reviewed the place. What an excellent memory. Great. Busted. Just don’t tell our server, please.
And he didn’t, as we discovered later.
She knew the menu well and suggested antipasto ($14) and antipasto it was. And how.
Not one of those gigantic things you find in Italian restaurants in the old neighborhood, it still had what was needed: artichoke hearts, Greek-style olives, rolled ham and cheese; roasted and marinated red peppers, chunks of sharp Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto and a little cheese on top. Honestly, we could have stopped there. All marination clearly was done in-house, the prosciutto was sliced to perfection and just tangy enough, the cheese perfect.
Bread and oil came out at once, by the way, and although it wasn’t my favorite Italian loaf ever — not at all crusty, dense and kind of flavor-low, I thought — my companion considered it exceptional and averred, “It’s the diet. You’ve lost your mind.”
Entrees were eggplant Parmigiana ($14) because it was Friday and chicken Marsala ($17) because I forgot. Anyway, they were preceded by chicken noodle soup and salad.
The soup clearly was homemade and highly flavored, complete with the biggest bay leaf you’ve ever seen and lots of chicken and pasta. The salad truly was comprised of mixed greens and included tomato, olives, red peppers and cheese: first-rate.
If you like eggplant and prefer it as you do it at home, order it at Amici’s. This is finely sliced, breaded, fried to a crisp and coated in just enough sauce and then cheese before baking, served over pasta. It had the slightest touch of olive oil about it, though the eggplant obviously had been drained (probably pressed, too), and so not a trace of oiliness or bitterness was in it: a marvelous dish.
The chicken Marsala was not the sort you find at many other restaurants, this being scaloppini-style chicken breast (bravo!) in a lighter-colored, far more gravy-like sauce than usual, though the mushrooms and hint of wine were there. It came over zucchini, shredded spaghetti-style, which was as delicious as it was brilliant. The problem was that it positively swam in the sauce, which probably simply was under-reduced that night. It still was good.
Dessert, a choice from eight classics made in the associated bakery of the redoubtable and delightful Maria Rebaza, was cassata cake. Mom would have lost over this cake: not terribly sweet, filled with a delightful custard and coated in whipped cream. If Maria makes it, buy it.
That was that, and chef-owner David Dashi came over to express his delight with the Flavor! menu and talk food/restaurants for an hour after the bill was paid. Dave, however unlikely it may be, if you thought that visit was going to affect the review, you’re wrong. Our minds were made up the minute we put down the forks: We’ll be back to Amici’s. Often.
Amici’s Italian Restaurant
Address: 7720 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Amici’s Bakery, in the same plaza, is open from 9 to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Other: Full bar with extensive wine list and high-end spirits; children’s menu; dietary needs addressed. The Chef’s Table, with prime steaks, chops and a lounge, is adjacent. Baker Maria Rebaza specializes in Italian pastries, cakes, breads and cookies; coffee also is available at Amici’s Bakery.
About our reviews
Restaurants are rated on a five-star system by FLORIDA TODAY’s reviewer. The reviews are the opinion of the reviewer and take into account quality of the restaurant’s food, ambiance and service. Ratings reflect the quality of what a diner can reasonably expect to find. To receive a rating of less than three stars, a restaurant must be tried twice and prove unimpressive on each visit. Each reviewer visit is unannounced and paid for by FLORIDA TODAY.
Five stars: Excellent. A rare establishment to which you’d be proud to take the most discerning diner.
Four stars: Very good. Worth going out of your way for. Food, atmosphere and service are routinely top notch.
Three stars: Good. A reasonably good place with food and service that satisfy.
Two stars: Fair. While there’s nothing special about this establishment, it will do in a pinch.
One star: Not recommended. Don’t bother.
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