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Bayonne's Best
An Italian gem

by Kate Rounds
Reporter staff writer

Jan 23, 2011

Visit Amici's Restaurant & Martini Lounge early on a Tuesday night before a snowstorm, and you still get the great food and exemplary service that you'd find on a busy Saturday night when the place is packed with regulars and eager newcomers.

Inside it's spacious yet warm, with art on the walls, anchored by a huge, backlit photo of the Bayonne Bridge. We ate in the cozy bar section, with lots of folks catering to our needs. Surveying the beers lining one wall, I was helped by a bartender who directed me to the coldest ones. I had a Yuengling, and Hudson Reporter Art Director Jennifer Martiak chose a Pino Grigio, served in a very large wineglass, almost to the rim.

Though Amici's has a very extensive menu, we chose mainly from the specials, starting with appetizers that ranged between $9 and $11. The Tomato Caprese featured layers of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and artichoke hearts garnished with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Very fresh ingredients made for a nice, light start. The stuffed portabella was a little heartier, with snow crabmeat and gorgonzola cheese in a delicate but tasty patty.

From there it was on to the entrees, which ranged between $17 and $23. The pan seared salmon is served with saut�ed onions, tricolor peppers in a white wine, lemon sauce, and pan-roasted potatoes. The fish was extremely tender and flavorful, as were all the fixings. Jennifer went for the rigatoni and sausage with broccoli and sundried tomatoes in a garlic, white wine chicken broth. The sausage was sweet, and the pasta and vegetables � with a healthy sprinkle of grated parmesan � were nicely seasoned. Be forewarned: The portions are hefty; we both took home leftovers.

Our waiter came out with a plate of desserts, which included tiramisu, cheesecake, carrot cake, and pecan pie. We split the carrot cake. It was so light and carroty, it almost seemed like a healthy side dish � except for the rich, but not-too-sweet frosting.

Catering, cocktails, and more

Amici's is located way down toward the end of Broadway near Sixth and Dodge streets, but I urge folks who have not ventured that far to do it. If you go by car, there's a handy parking lot across the street, and the 22nd Street light rail stop is not too far away. When the Eighth Street stop is completed in the not-too-distant future, it will be even easier to get there.

And there are a lot of reasons to visit. Owner and chef Francis Szklarski has a good handle on quality control, when it comes to both food and service. His martini menu is huge with more than 60 concoctions, from the caramel apple to the Russian Bear. On Wednesdays and Sundays the martinis are half-priced.

Szklarski's catering operation has a great reputation. If you don't see what you want, he will make whatever you want for parties, business meetings, and other events, both on- and off-site. One client raved about Amici's off-site catering, remarking that her guests referred to her parties as five-star events. You can also negotiate for silverware, china, and glassware.

The ambience at Amici's is comfortable and friendly, with paintings, wall sconces, and warm colors evocative of old Italy � except for the post-modern jukebox that illuminates one wall of the bar.

Looking for the complete Italian experience? Enjoy a meal at Amici's.



November 21, 2002

"This warm two-year old restaurant, carried our researchers on flights of Italian culinary fancy at very affordable prices. Every dish we tasted was a true delight, perfectly prepared, designed and quite large, as far as the portion.

Owner Chef Francis, warmly greets his guests, along with Sous Chef Sylvio, combine 'innovative' traditional Italian dishes with amazing eclectic interpretations of seasonal specialties and direct a [four-star] performance in this popular Italian kitchen.

Letters and calls from researchers report that the Vitello Saltimboca and the Seafood Riviera, are wonderful and the Lobster Ravioli in Vodka Sauce, remarkable. Dr. Marvin Mansky, New York Daily News, had only compliments for the interesting Pappardelle Sorrento, which was a perfect taste sensation.

The Skylight Room, the other half of this dining star embellishes 'Family' dining in the true sense and this fabulous room is where the catering takes place with up to 100 people, great for bridal or baby showers.

From a delightful Pollo Balsamico, to a plethora of delicious pastas, the daily specialties of the day, which include lunch and dinner, seem to reflect both the 'catch of the day and the market presentations of the season. The decor is delightful. The Martini Lounge, which specializes in a rich melange of knowledgeably mixed martini recipes, with an array of 40 martinis, is tasteful, with lighted water tubes, a chic black granite bar, comfy seating and very "in" crowd. The Chocolate Martini was our group's favorite. The entire experience was a refreshing change of pace.

The interesting menu melds the tastes of all continents with beef, chicken, veal, fresh fish, seafood, and even organic touches, resulting in mouth-watering specialties. Owner/Chef Francis, presents a global dining experience, where everything is fresh and made to order. He pays homage to ingredients of the season, and the constantly changing tastes of experienced metropolitan palates. One thing is for sure - you cannot be unhappy here. Everyone is laughing, dining, lingering and enjoying the relaxed but sophisticated atmosphere.

Minutes from the New Jersey Turnpike, the Bayonne Bridge and the center of town, this very remarkable eatery has everyone relaxed and delighted. There is absolutely nothing missing.

The staff turns the ceremony if dining into a very satisfying experience. Friendly and accommodating, when attending to each customer. They do whatever is necessary to make their guests comfortable and happy.

We were delighted with luscious tastes and the large portions, the moderate prices, the extensive menu and the originality of Owner/Chef Francis and Sous Chef Sylvio's diverse recipes. We tasted a wide range of fascinating dishes, offering poignant, appealing, exhilarating flavors. Len Trugman of Channel 7 News [said] "The Penne con Pollo with a vodka sauce was outstanding and the Mozzarella en Carozza appetizer was perfect." Sylvia, Bergen Record Researcher, stated that her "Veal Milanese was another winner," and Ivy Winters of [The] Post, loved the colorfully presented Tortellini Aurora and the unique Grilled Polenta appetizer. Susan Passero, our Bayonne Restaurant Researcher, loved the Black Forest Steak, she called it "a 'Must Try' Dish - Best in the business." My Fillet Mignon Gorgonzola was marvelous presentation and was cooked to perfection.

Quality is most important in this soothing, pretty, energetic place and definitely enticed this seasoned dining reporter. "The appetizers were the essence of originality and most pleasing to one's palate." Save room for homemade desserts, especially the Tiramisu and Cannolis, for a perfect ending. This is a restaurant with classical good taste, in pleasant atmosphere amidst interesting people."

 


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For a neighborly welcome, try Amici's in Bayonne

November 17, 2000

There is a difference between a restaurant in the neighborhood and a neighborhood restaurant, and if you ever cherished your neighborhood, you would know the difference.

A neighborhood restaurant is part of the fabric of life -- the location was fixed years ago, owned by the same family throughout. You probably know the owner; kids from the neighborhood work there. And not the least important is its reliable food quality, carefully kept high enough so that the neighborhood keeps it in business.

Mario and Melanie Macri opened Amici's Restaurant and Lounge in Bayonne in 1987. A visit today for lunch or dinner may reel you back to the old days. Customers are recognized and greeted; family pictures surround the classic cash register in the center of the bar.

Amici's is representative of the dwindling number of restaurants that earned Hudson County its reputation for good Italian food. Customers return not because the place keeps up with trends, but rather because it hasn't changed in years. In today's world, where we cope every day with the stress of constant change, it is somewhat comforting to go to a restaurant that thrives on Old World values.

The regular menu at Amici's includes virtually all the Southern Italian standards, as well as guilt-evoking bygone favorites like mozzarella en carozza (appetizer portion) and various pastas with sherry cream sauce.

The daily special menu has a less traditional tone, featuring, for example, an appealing dinner salad of mixed greens with fresh mozzarella in an orange honey vinaigrette, with grilled chicken or shrimp.

Entree prices are reasonable, with most dishes in the $12.50 -to- $15.95 range, including a soup or salad and potato or pasta. Appetizers are in the $4.95 -to- $8.95 range.

Service by the young staff was confident and courteous; our waiter even seemed to be proud that he worked there.

We started our Sunday dinner with soup specials. The Manhattan clam chowder made a very positive first impression with its fresh vegetables and flavorful broth. Comparatively, the cream of broccoli soup could have come from the pantry and was the only real disappointment of the meal.

Garlic lovers should remember to request the special house creamy Italian salad dressing, also notable for fresh ingredients. The seeded Italian bread that accompanies the first course is terrific and made locally in Bayonne.

Let's be honest - most of us have favorite Italian dishes, and when we go out to an Italian restaurant for the first time, the big test is, can the restaurant make that dish as good as Mama did? This kind of scrutiny may not be objective, but it reflects the soul, and isn't that what makes the best Italian food? So, I'll tell you that my personal Southern Italian favorites are anything franchese and eggplant parmigiana.

We ordered the Tre Amici - a regular-menu item including veal, chicken and shrimp francese. The kitchen redeemed itself from the seedlings of my impatience once we tasted the dish, for it was quickly clear Amici's knew all about soul. All the items were lightly breaded, tender and hot when served. The lemon wine sauce was tangy, medium consistency and a true taste compliment to the proteins. Fresh whole green beans on the side were steamed and served plain, providing the token opportunity necessary to say I tried to eat healthy.

Save room for dessert -- once again Amici's shows its quality-consciousness. There is a dessert tray featuring rice pudding, fresh strawberries, chocolate cheesecake, homemade tiramisu, the classic cannoli and carrot cake. We sampled the tiramisu and cannoli, and both were very good.

Amici's is worth a visit, even if you live outside the neighborhood. The food is good overall, and the prices very reasonable. You are treated like a neighbor, even if it's your first visit. 

 


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"From Italy with Love"

aptly describes the excellent cuisine and comfortable ambiance of Amici's Fine Dining. Conveniently located in Bayonne, NJ, they offer the people of this area superb Italian food, fine wine and excellent service. A seemingly endless menu features the authentic, traditional specialties of Old Italy. Every dish is cooked to order using only the finest quality, freshest ingredients.

Their menu features such Italian favorites and specials such as veal scaloppini, eggplant parmigiana, lasagna, ravioli and pasta dishes as well as prime steaks, fresh seafood and other American selections. They also feature a fine selection of domestic and imported wines to compliment your meal. Combine this with the gracious service from their attentive staff, and you'll realize you've found a truly fine dining experience. Come in and enjoy one of their 50 different martinis in their lounge where the troubles of the day will disappear among friendly company in a pleasant atmosphere.

If you're planning a party, their Skylight Room seats up to 100, and will accommodate both large and small groups. Catering in your place or theirs is also a specialty. They are open for lunch and dinner, and major credit cards are honored. Remember, you don't have to be of Italian descent to enjoy what Amici's Fine Dining has to offer - modest prices, a pleasant setting and food that is lovingly prepared according to authentic recipes.


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Buttero Menu
Wine List
Amici's Fine Dining
and Martini Lounge
184 Broadway
Bayonne, NJ
Ph: 201-437-4299
Fx: 201-455-8417

 

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