Celebration day. My lovely sister-in-law The Wild Thing has a new job, and most of her family and friends have descended upon Richardson to wish her well in her new endeavor. Many of the usual suspects in my previous posts were there: The Wild Thing, of course, her sister aka my lovely wife The Rock Star, her formidable mother The Momma, Beaners the nonstop niece and her husband, and a veritable plethora of lifelong friends too numerous to name. So, where did my sister-in-law want to go for her celebration brunch? The Mansion? The French Room?? Abacus??? None of the above. You see, despite her Troggs-inspired nickname, The Wild Thing is rather a simple sort of girl, and wanted a restaurant with a great, inexpensive food and homey ambiance. So it was that we piled ourselves into various and sundry conveyances and drove the few short blocks to Cafe Amore, an Italian restaurant that has often filled the bill for celebrations and such.
Speaking of places like The Mansion, if you want ultrachic, Art Deco-inspired decor and the like, you will not find it at Cafe Amore. Everything about this neighborhood gem speaks volumes of homespun, from the open brick kitchen to the rather simple scenes of Italianesque life plastered on the walls. We were quickly shown to a table for a dozen near the front of the establishment where we immediately engaged in copious conversation and leisurely menu perusal.
Leisurely is indeed the word of the day at Cafe Amore, and the decidedly slow service is one of our only ongoing quibbles with the restaurant. Our waitress proved quite capable throughout, yet it was obvious that she was assigned too many tables, probably half-a-dozen in addition to our party of eleven. Luckily, it was Sunday brunch, and none of us were in a hurry. The Wild Thing insisted that everyone start their repast with the Mozzarella and Tomato ala Caprese. We've had this appetizer on many occasions in the past and have always enjoyed the simple blending of flavors: fresh mozzarella, basil, fresh tomato, red onions, extra virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper pleased our crowd; oddly enough, I found it a bit drier than usual. One couple ordered the Seafood Fritte and urged me to try it. This was better, and the fried calamari and baby shrimps served with aoli constituted a simple pleasure, as it was not redolent of frying oil. I wondered for a moment why more restaurants don't serve this satisfying combination, but it was soon time to move on. Basic yeasty rolls with butter were brought, good for sopping up juices, a great pairing for the entrees to come. For our main courses, my wife and I decided on the Cremora preparation; hers with shrimp, mine with veal. Sauteed jumbo shrimps and veal scaloppini respectively were served with fresh mushrooms, green onions, and chopped tomatoes in a brandy cream sauce that was plate-licking good, the delicate cream bathing the tender meat and seafood with a light, gentle kiss. I wish I could tell you some of the other entrees we enjoyed, except that by this time both the wine and the conversation were freely flowing and my thoughts were engaged elsewhere. I can only report with accuracy that Beaners and her husband ordered something with mussels, because I remember eyeing them enviously, and that The Momma ordered lasagna because she always orders lasagna when dining Italian. This seems as good a time as any to tell you that Cafe Amore is BYOB, and that we took full advantage, which to me is an excellent selling point for this neighborhood gem. My wife and I concluded our repast with the Cappucino Pie, a coffee, ice cream, and pastry bomb that reminded us just how much we enjoy basic Italian desserts when done right. Again, I can't report on this course for anyone else, except that I kept hearing contented sighs of "heavenly tiramasu" emanating from the other end of the table.
Service improved throughout the course of the day, as lunchtime diners departed, and as noon bled into afternoon, no new ones took their places, so our waitress was better able to keep pace with the needs of our large party. No website per se, but you can go to http://www.allmenus.com/, which will give you the menu and at least some of the essentials of Cafe Amore.
Overall, Cafe Amore did an excellent job of providing great food and ambiance that served as the backdrop for The Wild Thing's celebration day. Stage your own party there yourself, and as always:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!