Imagine my delight when I heard about the Urban Outfitters deal that would eventually bring one of my favorite Philly chefs, Marc Vetri, to Westport, to open Amis Trattoria. Amis is part of the critically acclaimed Vetri Family Restaurant Group, and the Westport location is lucky enough to have two-time James Beard nominee, Chef/Partner Brad Spence, at the helm. When Amis officially opened on March 31, and 2 ½ hours closer than the Philly location, it was with great anticipation when I stopped in for a meal.
When Amis officially opened on March 31, and 2 ½ hours closer than the Philly location, it was with great anticipation when I stopped in for a meal.
Located in the brand-new Bedford Square development, Amis’ entrance might throw you off at first. You can enter by going down the tunnel to its left, where you’ll be brought to a courtyard and the restaurant’s back entrance. Once inside the exposed brick, well-lit space, the different seating options are noticeable; there’s bar seating in the far back left corner, plenty of window seats in the dining room, and for a show, there’s a counter towards the front so you can watch the chefs hustle in the kitchen.
When you sit down to order a drink, you’ll see that much of the focus is on Italian wines with others coming from France, California, and a few from New York. For non-vino lovers, they have six draft beers (more available in bottles), two are CT local brews from Two Roads and Relic, a couple Italian beers are featured as well. The introductory cocktail list had three specialty cocktails. I tried two out of three, the Alto (prosecco, ginger liqueur, blood orange bitters) and the Amis Punch (Aperol, vodka, lemon), both were pleasantly sweet and refreshing, and perfect for the warm weather months ahead. Since the first handful of days, Amis’ cocktail list has expanded times three.
Food wise, Amis’ menu is best described as classic and modern Roman-Italian, using fresh ingredients and allowing them to shine. Think fresh pasta dishes, an ample selection of small plates, and a handful of meat/fish choices. I recommend starting with a bunch of shareable smalls starting with one of the bruschetta options like eggplant caponata, mortadella mousse, or bufala mozzarella to dip, smear, or stack on top of crispy grilled bread. Follow that up with Italian tapas like fried calamari with long hot peppers, shrimp alla plancha, or swordfish meatballs.
Our group devoured Sal’s Old School Meatballs (above), a veal/beef/pork blend, served with tomato potato, a very Italian sauce created by simmering potatoes with San Marzano tomatoes until potatoes are tender, then mashing it up. We kept the meat theme going by ordering porchetta with a sweet mostarda and grilled veal tongue (also served in mostarda) that had a thick-cut bacon-like texture and taste, both were winners with the sweet syrup balancing out the fatty saltiness of the meat.
When it comes to choosing a pasta dish, don’t get one, get at least two. My favorite was the classic, creamy, course-peppered cacio e pepe, that immediately emerged—at least for me—as the area’s best. There’s likely a few pasta preps you likely haven’t seen before. like the Italian riff on an Asian noodle dish with chili flakes, peanuts, and long hot peppers. I wasn’t sure about it on the spot, but it grew on me a day later when I heated up the leftovers.
I implore you, order the Pork Parmesan. You’ve had chicken, veal, and eggplant Parm, so why not this? It’s a big, pounded out, bone-in chop, breaded and fried, covered in a bright tomato sauce, with dollops of fresh, still-melting mozzarella, and it’s tender. There are other things, like scallop pizzaiola, chicken saltimbocca, and a steak dish, but I’ll crave the Pork Parm every day until I return.
I highly recommend ordering dessert. The spumoni sundae can be shared, but if you opt for the tiramisu, you won’t want to share. It looks like an intimidating bowl, but be assured, it’s not, it’s like eating sweetened coffee-espresso flavored air, and a go-to dessert being that it’s a passed-down Vetri family recipe.
Amis Trattoria is different, and that’s a good thing. Maybe I’m biased because of my admiration for the Philly restaurant scene, and because of my fandom of Vetri restaurants, but I don’t care, I’m thrilled these guys are here.
Amis Trattoria, 1 Church Ln., Westport; (203)-514-4906; http://www.amistrattoria.com/