A Taste of Amaro Pizzeria & Vino Lounge
Amaro Pizzeria & Vino Lounge recently opened in Cave Creek with efforts of two restaurant and bar industry veterans, Frank Viaro and Tagan Dering (Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar). Amaro brings a taste of Old World Italy serving Italian classics, wood-fired pizzas and an impressive collection of wines.
The restaurant is kid-friendly, yet holds an upscale atmosphere, and even features a pizza-making bar where kids can knead their own dough and choose their own toppings to create a custom pizza.
Some favorites from the menu:
*Note: the following items were presented in a tasting and are not necessarily indicative of actual portion size.
Kantak Chop Smoked salmon, dried sweet corn, black currants, pepitas, asiago cheese, cous cous, bruschetta tomatoes, arugula, pesto/buttermilk ($12)
The Kantak Chop was ridiculously delicious and the winner of the night. The perfect salad with the perfect texture – ‘nuff said. You may recognize this from Cowboy Ciao…
Pane Caprese Toasted foccacia, pulled mozzarella, garlic marinated tomatoes, basil pesto, balsamic drizzle ($10)
Another absolutely delicious salad. Although slightly overshadowed by the Kantak Chop, the Pana Caprese still held its ground. Both salads would be re-orders in my book.
Meatballs Veal, beef, pork, oregano, garlic, sweet onion, parmesan, basil ($9)
I’ll start off by saying I’m not a huge meatball fan (blasphemy!), but this meatball was fantastic. Tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned and full of flavor. Maybe I’ve never had a good meatball in my life. I will say that it was difficult to eat on top of its raft of crispy bread, but nonetheless – it was delicious.
Dolce Arrabiatta Pizza Fresh mozzarella, Taleggio, caramelized sweet onions, sweet & spicy Italian sausage, Calabrian chilies, extra virgin olive oil, basil ($15)
This pizza was a huge hit at my table. Although a bit spicy for my taste, the pizza still had a really delicious flavor. I wouldn’t necessarily order this again, but my gut tells me it’ll be a hit for many more dinners to come.
Margherita Pizza Fresh mozzarella, parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, basil ($10)
Simple and good – thin crust pizzas are my favorite. I wanted to sneak 5 more slices of this to take home… it was THAT good.
Buccatini Bolognese Hollow spaghetti, red wine Bolognese, shaved parmesan ($15)
Incredible. There’s nothing left to say…. Incredible.
Giardino Spinach fettuccini, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, scallions, fresh herbs, shaved parmesans, extra virgin olive oil ($10)
The Bolognese won me over immediately, so perhaps I did not give this pasta a fair chance. I’m much more a fan of thick, meaty, overly-decadent pastas packed with more calories than one should consume in a day. But, for a more health-conscious alternative, this pasta does not compromise flavor.
Salmon Almondine Almond/brown sugar crusted, lemon/mascarpone creamed corn, wood roasted fennel ($18)
While not usually a fan of slightly-sweet entrees, I enjoyed this dish very much. The lemon and mascarpone creamed corn was fantastic and an great accompaniment to the fresh salmon floating in its pool. Not a bite was left on my plate to share!
Chicken Parmesan Parmesan/ciabatta crumb chicken cutlet, angel hair pasta, San Marzano marinara, melted buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil ($17)
Chic ken Parmesan? To me, Chicken Parmesan dishes have always been a bit ‘blah’. I was surprised to see this on the tasting menu since it’s not a dish that usually ‘wows’. However… I loved it. I loved every single bite of it. The chicken has a salty, parmesan crust and was actually crispy – not soggy like you’ll find often times in a chicken parm dish. The angel hair pasta with marinara was slightly sweet, a nice contrast to the saltiness of the chicken.
Panna Cotta topped with caramel sauce and pecans
This dessert was the talk of the night (follow the #TasteofAmaro hashtag on Twitter to read comments) and I was still dreaming about it the next day. Absolutely delicious.
Tiramisu Espresso soaked ladyfinger cookies, Italian custard, bitter cocoa ($7)
From a girl who loves her tiramisu, Amaro’s is spot on. One bite and you’ll be “Mmm-ing” all night.
The verdict? We’re in love with Amaro and will absolutely be back again next time we’re in Cave Creek!
For more information, visit their website at amaroaz.com
Amaro Pizzeria & Vino Lounge / 28234 North Tatum Blvd. / Cave Creek, AZ / 480-502-1920
Review by Amy Martin, PhoenixBites Editor in Chief