That’s Amore

Amore Mio’s tasting menu is a gourmet extravaganza.

White pizza at Amore Mio (photo credit: Courtesy)
White pizza at Amore Mio
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Thirty years ago, restaurateur Shlomi Salamon opened a small pizzeria down the street from Tel Aviv’s City Hall. A generation later, Pizza Pazza is still going strong; but the real success story is the restaurant it spawned next door. Now 17 years old, Amore Mio is consistently rated as one of the city’s best Italian eateries.
The atmospheric decor of Amore Mio exudes Italy: Every inch of wall space is adorned with photos, maps and memorabilia of that country, while the soundtrack plays opera arias sung by great tenors.
There is also sidewalk seating.
There are no specialty cocktails, but there is an extensive international wine list, as well as imported and domestic beers. The house red is from Argentina, but our waitress recommend the Chianti Classico from Tuscany (NIS 40), a traditional Italian table wine. The house white is the Roman Frascati Fontana Candida (NIS 30), a pleasant blend of three grapes.
When we suggested to the waitress that we would welcome the idea of a tasting menu suggested by the chef, she surprised us by saying that the restaurant does indeed offer a menu of samples from each menu section: starters, pizzas, pastas, main courses and desserts. She warned us that the meal would take up to two and a half hours, to which we readily agreed.
From the full page of starters (NIS 19 – NIS 57), we were served a trio of salads, along with beef carpaccio and a plate of antipasti: eggplant Parmigiana, artichoke, sweet potato with thyme, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers and crumbled feta cheese. The vegetables were cooked ever so gently, bringing out their full flavor.
The Amore house salad, meanwhile, comprised several types of leafy lettuce, croutons, roasted red bell peppers, walnuts and shaved Parmesan, tossed in a basil vinaigrette. The mélange of ingredients provided a nice interplay of flavors and textures.
The beef carpaccio – razor-thin filet with arugula and grated Parmesan – was excellent, with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon enhancing the meat without overpowering it.
From the menu’s full page of pizzas (NIS 54 – NIS 66), we were served tiny pizzettas representing both red and white pizzas (although all pizzas may be customized with or without tomato sauce). Each pizza at Amore, like all the pastas, bears the name of a person, preceded by the honorific Zio (uncle) or Zia (aunt).
The Zio Davide – tomato sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, mascarpone cream, crouton crumbs and basil – was distinctive and outstanding, while the Zia Letizia – mozzarella, salami and pineapple – deftly juxtaposed sweet fruit with savory charcuterie.
The menu’s three full pages of pastas (NIS 46 – NIS 74) are categorized by unique sauce: tomato-based, cream or olive oil. Our parade of small tasting plates began with the Zio Giovanni – strozzapreti in a tomato sauce with smoked goose breast, salami, pesto and parsley. The combination of pesto with tomato sauce is not one you encounter often; together with the two kinds of charcuterie, it added up to a powerhouse of flavor.
Next was the Spiritosa – penne in a rosé sauce: cream, tomato and vodka. The sauce was so superb that the pasta tubes needed none of the usual protein or vegetable accompaniments.
The waitress told us the pastas would keep on coming until we said stop, while reminding us there were meat courses and desserts also waiting in the wings. So we tried to call a halt then and there, but she insisted we try the gnocchi, ravioli and risotto. Needless to say, we relented.
Respectively, the Zio Lupetto – gnocchi with beef filet, broccoli, onion, sundried tomato and mushroom, in a sauce of olive oil and brandy – had so many premium ingredients that the dish was practically over the top. The ravioli Zia Serenella were stuffed with sweet potato and ricotta, in a cream sauce with pesto.
Once again, the addition of pesto to the base sauce (cream, this time) transformed it into something unforgettable.
The risotto Zio Fabrizio finally marked the conclusion of the seemingly never-ending succession of pastas.
The rice with mushrooms, onions and parsley came in a Parmesan and butter sauce that was incredibly rich.
The main courses (NIS 74 – NIS 128) were thankfully served without the usual sides of potatoes and salad, so we would have enough room to concentrate on the meat.
The tagliata di manzo was aged sirloin served on a sizzling plate with arugula, lemon and olive oil.
Removing the meat right away meant that it was still cooking – and extraordinarily succulent – while we were eating it.
The fegato alla griglia – large morsels of chicken liver with grilled onion – were melt-in-the-mouth tender, while the pollo alla griglia – breast of spring chicken – was so juicy that it exploded with flavor.
Finally, the filetto alla spadaccina – aged medallions of beef with slivered almonds in a butter and wine sauce – was as mouth-wateringly delicious as it sounds.
Needless to say, we just barely managed to nibble at the desserts: tiramisu, with an extremely light and frothy top layer of mascarpone cream; flaky millefoglie with creme patissiere and almonds; and affogato made with a white chocolate semifreddo (instead of vanilla ice cream), with hot espresso poured tableside. None were heavy, so they were fine finishing touches to a meal that was a memorable experience.
The cost of Amore Mio’s indulgent tasting menu is NIS 200, including meat courses (both meat and chicken; there is no fish or seafood on the menu). The restaurant will validate parking – a significant reduction after 4 p.m. – at the Gan Ha’ir lot across the street.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Amore Mio
Not kosher
100 Ibn Gvirol St.,
Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 524-4040