On what was a glorious afternoon on the north coast I once again visited Amici set on the edge of the old course in Portstewart. 'Amici Ristorante' is a place my family and I regularly visit as it is in walking distance of the house. For one reason or another I have only just got round to writing a quick review, I suspect there will be many more visits.
In my opinion, if you walk into a restaurant and the first thing you see is a wood burning oven you are on to a winner. I adore wood burning ovens as they provide such distinctive flavour when cooking lumps of meat and traditional pizzas.
The menu was diverse but not to the mind-boggling extent of the Ramore down the road. The traditional Italian favourites were present; Pizza, Pasta, Antipasta along with a great selection of meat and fish dishes along with the slightly peculiar, yet nowadays obligatory salt & chilli dishes. As this was a quick lunch rather than an evening meal my better half and I shared a couple of mains and a side. With the wood burning oven at the forefront of my mind, I had to try their pizza as there can be few things as joyous as a pizza made from fresh dough and cooked in this way.
Pepperoni and mushroom was my weapon of choice and a great choice it was. The dough was perfectly fresh with a slight crispness giving way to a delectable chewy and satisfying bite. The tomato sauce was, well tomato sauce but the quantity was right in providing that umami flavour without making the base soggy. Up there with one of the best pizzas I've had in a while.
Our other dish was a Linguini Casalattico which in simple terms is a seafood Linguini made without cream. An extremely light dish that included mussels, prawns, pancetta, garlic, butter, peas, chilli, olive oil and the star ingredient....fresh mint. Perfectly cooked pasta and the freshest of ingredients made this dish a delicate delight. The sauce was made from a drop of white wine, olive oil and butter that worked great in not overpowering the shell-fish with the mint and slices of fresh chilli working in the background adding a hint of freshness.
For sides, I had to taste the Salt & Chilli Chips.......I am a simple man in this respect. I see salt & chilli-I order it. Infact if it wasn't for my wife's aversion to chilli I would have had the prawns as well. Homemade and crispy with the welcomed addition of fried onion. They were awesome.
The service was actually better than the food and given the tone of this review is enough to tell you Amici has a lot of things going for it. I can't wait to go back for an evening meal and to try some meat from their Charcoal Oven along with a robust Italian Red!