- scene: Welcoming and subdued, there are white table-cloths, good lighting and a great bar to sit at
- sip: Classic drinks or wine
- savor: baked clams; octopus; lasagna on Sundays; chicken parm
- sit: With a group from work; with your parents and your significant other; on a date; by yourself at the bar
- spend: $$
- address: 209 East 56th Street (3rd and 2nd Ave)
- phone number: (212) 308-0830
- website: www.amatanyc.com
When you think of Amata, you should think red, and here is why:
The sign is red.
The sauce is red.
Owner Chris Dorrian is part of the Dorrian’s Red Hand family.
The gentleman who greets you, Al, used to work at the Palm, which serves red meat. You will want to be his friend, but he will treat you like one already.
Amata means “beloved”, and love is red, no?
Don’t even act like you are too good for “red sauce Italian” because Amata’s food is everything that is familiar and comforting to me, what I want to eat every Sunday night and what I crave when I return home from a vacation (unless said vacation was to Italy.) Chef Enzo Di Rende is from famed Arthur Avenue spot Domenick’s, as well as the CIA, so he has both skills and tradition on his side. The menu is made up of true Italian classics, prepared with fresh ingredients and a lot of love; the food is consistently pleasing, and the service aims to make you feel like you are part of the family.
Amata’s dining room is understated and muted, letting the food be the star. It has a grown-up feel that is appropriate for Midtown East, but not stuffy. The bar gets busy, and is a great place to perch up and dig in. My favorite dish any time I can get it is baked clams, and Amata’s are crunchy, briny and garlicky. and the sauce can be sopped up with some of the yummy focaccia that is given to every table. The octopus salad is very popular, simple and bright with a lemon kick. The meatballs are classic and tasty, homemade and served with a marinara sauce. Although not haute cuisine, Amata has a great Caesar salad, with some special touched like capers instead of anchovies.
The pastas are all fantastic, my favorite being the linguine vongole and the lasagna that is only available on Sunday. The litmus test of any red sauce Italian restaurant is the parmigiana, (chicken in my case) and the one at Amata is crave-worthy. It is big enough to share and served with a side of spaghetti with pomodoro sauce, pounded thin and not overly breaded, it is pure Parm porn.
Dessert offerings are nostalgic Italian favorites, like tiramisu, tartufo cannoli and gelato.
Amata is the answer to all of your restaurant needs in Midtown East- work meal, date night, group dinner, solo dinner or a little piece of home on Sunday. You are bound to be charmed by the food and service, and will leave feeling full and relaxed.