Ensconced on the third-floor roof of the upscale Taikoo Hui shopping center, Amaroni’s New York-Italian style restaurant looks phenomenal and certainly walks the walk. The real question is whether the fare offered can talk the talk and deliver authentic Italian-style dishes that transport you from Taikoo Hui to Tuscany.
On a tepid Monday evening, we go to scope out the scene at Amaroni’s and find the nicely designed and handsome patio nearly full. The restaurant is only half-occupied, however, and the crowd almost wholly local. We elect to sit inside.
The accoutrements are stylish and paired with subtle background music that’s a lovechild of Herbie Hancock and Nine Inch Nails. Details evoke a chic Manhattan cafe; the kind Patrick Bateman and his yuppie friends in American Psycho would kill for – or at the very least have their secretaries make reservations months in advance to.
The service isn’t evocative of New York City, where the wait staff deign to your every need in hope of a 20 percent tip. This is one of those places where you must refill your own glass or learn how to shout fuwuyuan loudly in a passable Cantonese accent to get attention.
Red spinach soup (RMB25) and mulberry salad (RMB78) begin our Amaroni’s adventure. Both are excellent. The soup is just begging to have a piece of the complimentary breadsticks dunked into it, and we oblige. The salad is an excellent creation that would make even the most he-man-salad-hater dig in.
The main events are penne rustica (RMB98) and New York classic pizza (RMB108). Both come highly recommended by the wait staff and both are slightly underwhelming. We wish we’d sampled other tried and true Italian tropes such as the lasagna (RMB98) or spaghetti carbonara (RMB128). If you are feeling particularly posh, you can spring for more luxurious fare such as oven roasted live crab (RMB288) or the slow cooked oxtail (RMB256).
Our apprehensions about the main course are quickly assuaged when desert arrives. The cannoli (RMB24) is worth crossing the Rubicon a thousand times over for and the deliciously soft tiramisu (RMB48) is like biting into an espresso-and-cream-flavored cloud. We note that that the tiramisu milkshake (RMB38) would be a five-dollar shake back home. But just like our visit to Amaroni’s, it’s worth every mao.
A fine date spot, Amaroni’s plugs a nice hole both price- and taste-wise between rock-bottom Saizeriya Italian fare and sky-high Italian delicatessen Limoni restaurant in the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
Price: RMB200 per person
Who’s going: amorous couples, people tired of the whacky toppings at Pizza Hut
Good for: a romantic date that doesn’t get too splurge-y
[Photos by Connor Frankhouser]