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 sautéed 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.
Amici’s is at 184 Broadway, Bayonne, (201) 437-4299, www.amicirestaurant.com. For a more casual experience, drop in at Szklarski’s 747 Bar & Grill at 747 Broadway between 32nd and 33rd Streets in Bayonne.
Kate Rounds can be reached at email@example.com.