Amore Victoria — March 6, 2010

7 03 2010

Amore Victoria Ristorante
1601 West Lake Street

We wanted to like it.

To mark the end of Restaurant Week 2010, we trekked to Uptown for an Italian dinner just east of the lakes. Pulling into the free parking lot (bonus!), we could almost feel the warmth of Amore just by peering through the windows. From the doorway, the softly lit ristorante pulled us inside. The hostess led us to our table where, tucked in a corner, we could take in the ambiance and observe much of the dining area and the bar while feeling like we had our own space.

Service was delightful. After our previous prix fixe experience at Oceanaire, we knew dessert often turned the tide from full to stuffed, so we asked to make a substitution. No dessert = glass of wine with dinner. Our extremely polite waiter caught the owner and persuaded him to let us make the swap. Hello Merlot! (Note: pleasingly decent for a house pour, as was Jim’s Chianti). And the menu selection was so attractive that we almost diverged from the prix fixe special, but instead said we’d make a point to return in order to try more dishes. So far, Amore was winning our hearts.

First up — the seafood antipasti for me (a normally $23 appetizer when not part of the prix fixe) and potato gnocchi for Jim. Small but exquisite, I was impressed with the chilled calamari, mussels and shrimp tossed in a lemon/olive oil mixture. But that was the highlight. Jim’s gnocchi came on a saucer and was sprinkled with Parmesan and pistachios. The dumplings were bland and forgettable, so perhaps it was excusable that the plate only contained four bites.

My second course selection was breaded eggplant and marinated artichoke hearts over fettuccine, which offered a unique mix of questionable flavors and clumpy, dry noodles.  Jim’s bone-in pork over spaghetti and vegetables swimming in a tomato-based sauce had potential — the meat was tender and the grilled vegetables were aplenty — but the chef failed to make the dish shine with flavor. As the spaghetti lay limp in the watery sauce, Jim summarized our overall meal: “It was almost good.”

By the time we paid the bill, our decision was made — we wouldn’t be back to try more of the menu. While the description of every item had us drooling at the table, the execution is likely to be as lackluster as the three dishes that disappointed us. Should we be in the mood for a calm drink in Uptown, perhaps we’ll revisit Amore to enjoy the friendly service and charming atmosphere. But we’d rather chance dissatisfaction somewhere else.

RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Ambiance/Environment: ♠♠♠
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠
Service: ♠♠♠ 1/2
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠ 1/2

Total bill, including tip: $72

Amore Victoria on Urbanspoon




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