Dec 1 2012

Amarone

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There seems to be a trend to name your restaurant Amarone. I have been to a restaurant called Amarone Rotterdam, and there is also one in Glasgow and in Edinburgh, and a few days ago I visited Amarone restaurant in Riga (and I am sure there are other Amarones around). I was so curious why so many people use this name I had to google it, as I did not know it and Amarone apparently comes from the full name Amarone della Valpolicella, which is a typically rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara varieties. Now that I know this wonderful fact, I definitely order some Amarone wine next time I visit one of the Amarone restaurants. When I went to Amarone in Riga with my amazing brother and my 2 great friends Baiba and Petersons, even though the place had only been opened for a few days, it was full and buzzing, which if you know the Riga restaurant scene is absolutely amazing, as most of the restaurants in Riga are very empty (because of many reasons, such as prices, wages in Riga, culture, etc..). But I guess the reason why Amarone is already so successful is because it is owned by the same people that own Rossini in Riga, which has been one of the most successful restaurants, and it serves great quality Italian food for very reasonable prices. Rossini charges around 6 pounds for a starter and a bit more but not much more for main courses, and it is actually quite rare to find restaurants in Riga that serve such big portions and good food for these type of prices, and Amarone has the same concept of making you feel like you are getting great value for your food, which I think is the main reason why it is so successful. Amarone is located on the same street as Rossini, although it’s location is better as it overlooks one of the small beautiful parks in Riga. The restaurant is located in the basement though, so you can’t really see the park from your table, so kind of annoying as you can’t enjoy the better view, and the restaurant is not located in one large room, but rather the room bends so it almost feels like there are three parts to the restaurant, which adds a certain coziness to the place. We were all feeling very hungry at dinner (Baiba had not eaten anything the whole day), so we decided to order a pizza to share between us as well as a starter and a main course each. As Baiba was super hungry at the beginning she ordered a bruschetta as well, but the waiter totally forgot about this and never brought it. We also ordered some sparking water and it also never arrived. Clearly not a great sign, but then again I was not too bothered, as I could have asked for this the second time if we really wanted it that badly. My dad says that this place “googles recipes and then tries to recreate them without any great skill of a chef” and even though I thought the food was nice, you could kind of feel it.  The portions are good and the prices are good but there is not much creativity in the dishes. We ordered a “quarto stagione” (four seasons) pizza, which had the 4 typical toppings you see in it, olives, artichokes, mushrooms and ham. The pizza was very thin, which I loved, but I did not think the quality of some of the 4 toppings was great, and even though you can use the plain button mushrooms as a topping, some restaurants really make them better or use other mushrooms. Petersons had chosen the beef Carpaccio as his starter, Baiba had scallops and I had the “seafood harmony” starter, which had tuna, octopus and salmon all on the same plate. Petersons’ Carpaccio looked excellent and besides the beef, rocket and parmesan it also had some thinly sliced mushrooms (same as the ones used for the pizza) as well as celery, which even though is not so typical, I actually quite liked. The beef seemed great quality and altogether it was very similar to a beef Carpaccio you can get in London even in the top restaurants (with the only difference probably being that there was no waiter that poured olive oil over the Carpaccio). I did not try Baiba’s scallops but they looked absolutely beautiful, super well-presented and I thought it was great value for money to get 4 of them for the price (Asia de Cuba charges you 2x more and gives you 2 scallops). My starter I thought was a bit boring though. I did think the quality of the fish I got was great, the tuna was delicious, the octopus was nice, but there was absolutely nothing added to it, ok there was some oil added on the top of the tuna, but apart from that nothing else! I was just eating plain fish. Even with a few little spices and sauces they could have made this dish so much better. Petersons chose an entrecote for his main course that was served with 2 boiled potatoes, some asparagus and cherry tomatoes and I did try the steak and thought it was delicious. Baiba had pasta with prawns and calamari, which was nice (it had some parmesan cheese and usually restaurants don’t mix it with seafood, although Jamie Oliver says that some parmesan is actually really good with seafood). I had ordered risotto with mushrooms and chicken and even though I thought it was nice, and I did finish it, I had tried a different risotto on the same day in another restaurant Meke which had also used mushrooms, and as I thought that one was much better and cheaper, this risotto did let me down just that tiny bit. My brother had pasta (spaghetti) with seafood, and I did think the pasta was a bit undercooked and hard, but apart from that I loved how much seafood they gave you. I think my write up is a bit harsh on Amarone at times, but nevertheless I still enjoyed it very much, as I loved the atmosphere, it was one of the best and buzziest places I have been in Riga for a long time, and as the food was not expensive I am willing to turn a blind eye to some of the shortfalls of Amarone. But note if you are very fussy about the service, this place could let you down on this front.

Date: 01/12/12
Location: Riga
Price per person, including alcohol and including service charge: LVL 25

Maija rated: 

3.00

Location: 

Amarone
J Alunana iela, 2
Riga
Latvia
LV
Amarone Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3