Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ahm in amore, at least when in Portsmouth

Portsmouth has seen a steady sprinkling of new restaurants in and around the newly renovated High Street area. Amoré Casual Italian has recently joined the ranks.

Styled as an unpretentious, family-friendly neighborhood fixture, it plays the part with classic red-and-white checked tablecloths, cozy brick walls and welcoming staff. As it wasn’t preposterously hot outside, my husband and I elected to sit out on the patio, where a cooling breeze rustled enticingly through the vestibule.

The wait staff seemed slightly short-changed that night, but an apologetic waitress was soon tableside. Our perusal of the modest wine list yielded the Acinum Chianti ($30), a tight little package that was crafted for heady tomato sauce, Italian ham and pepperoni-rich pies. We placed our orders, then kicked back to watch the engaging panoply of folk out for their evening stroll.

The salads soon arrived, verdant and fresh. I had the simple dinner salad ($3.99), a modest and crisp assortment of iceberg, tomatoes, cucumbers and croutons. The basic house dressing veered a tad to the sweet side, but was still quite nice.

Dave’s Italian salad ($7.99) was rife with more crisp lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, red onion, rolled ham and cheese, and fat slices of sharp green pepper. The house dressing, once again, was a little sweet and in just the right amount.

We watched with barely concealed awe as our neighbor’s dishes came out: a fat chunk of lasagna issuing forth heady scents, and a portion of ziti that did much the same. Shortly after that, our entrees came out piping hot, and looking just as good.

Dave’s spaghetti and meatballs ($8.99) came in a massive, contractor-sized portion. The pasta was generously doused in a slightly sweet marinara, dappled with hefty, hand-formed meatballs. It was an excellent homespun version.

I had pizza, always a good benchmark for any such restaurant. My small pesto chicken pie ($6.99) didn’t disappoint. The crust was nicely chewy, supporting layers of pungent pesto, cheese and chunks of pre-cooked chicken. A sprinkling of crushed red pepper is not only encouraged, but well received.

Although dessert ran the gamut from cheesecake to tiramisu, to ice cream, cake and cannolis, we were more than comfortably full from our hearty entrees. We took the check, and thanked our waitress once again for the low-key, relaxing experience.

Amoré is all about casual comfort food, served in an easygoing, friendly environment. Now that is — Amoré!

Amoré Casual Italian
606 High Street, Portsmouth
Phone: 337-8382
Specialties: casual Italian
Price range: soups and salads: $4.49-$7.99; sandwiches/subs: $3.49-$6.49; entrees: $6.49-14.99; pizzas: 5.99-$13.99
Hours: 11 a.m.- 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight, Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., Sunday brunch
Alcohol: beer, wine, full bar
Smoking: on the outdoor patio
Vegetarian: yes
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Payment: cash, credit cards
Noise level: conversational
Atmosphere: casual
Additional Information: kids’ menu
Star rating: food 3, atmosphere 3, service 3
(out of five stars)


Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Fabulous looking dinner! Wish I were in Portsmouth!

7:38 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Wow, that pizza! Wow!

9:02 AM  

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