In October, I traveled to Connecticut to share a few relaxing days with a group of women who I spend a lot of time with, especially during the summer months. I love these energetic, smart and interesting women and we have traveled together in various formations on several occasions. In addition to delicious meals, games and a long walk, we took the train into Manhattan to enjoy an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we were treated to a guided tour of the Delacroix exhibit.
Arranged by my friend, Marte, who makes frequent appearances here on the blog :), the tour and exhibit were amazing. I was absolutely dazzled by our guide, a friend of Marte’s who is on the faculty at Columbia and seamlessly walked and talked her way through the exhibit like a boss. It was incredibly inspiring to watch this woman confidently weave the story of Delacroix in such a way that you felt transported to France. We were incredibly lucky to have this opportunity for a private tour and I am most grateful.
I was asked to pick a restaurant for dinner so considering that we wanted to walk from the Met and perhaps do some shopping along the way, I chose Amali. I had booked a reservation to go to Amali with my husband over Labor Day weekend, but they decided to close for the holiday and cancelled. I was determined to get back there and they could accommodate our large group so it worked out nicely.
Amali is part of a restaurant group in New York that owns other establishments, its first being La Galouise (now closed), followed by Il Cantinori on East 10th street that still features classic Tuscan dishes. An authentic Greek theme was next with Periyali. You can read more on their website.
Opened in 2011 and located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Amali is inspired by the Mediterranean cultures of Greece, Italy and Turkey. The restaurant’s menu emphasizes fresh vegetables, grains and fish although there are plenty of options available for meat eaters. The restaurants works with many small farmers and suppliers so the menu changes often.
The restaurant is an intimate space with two rooms downstairs and rooms for private dining upstairs. A cozy bar greets you as you walk into the main dining room. The decor is minimalist but lovely, perhaps on purpose. It’s a welcoming and well-lit space and I imagine it was bustling as we left the restaurant later in the evening.
For large groups such as ours, the restaurant provides a prix fixe menu set at $65 per person. That price allows you to order four appetizers and three entrees for the table, portioned to fit your group. It does not include side dishes, desserts or drinks. Some of the menu items are additional if you choose them. I have to be honest and say that I felt badly not realizing that there was a prix fixe menu when I made the reservation so I was very out of sorts when we sat down! They said that the information was on Open Table, but I went back and checked. What it says on Open Table is that for a large party of 8 or more, you are asked to order family style, as is the Mediterranean custom or from a preselected menu. I think that wording is misleading and told them so! Thankfully, none of my friends objected but just be forewarned that if your party is 8 or more, you may be charged a per person fee and the meal can get pricey with all the extras included. Best to call the restaurant for more details.
I want to put a caveat on my review here to say that we really did enjoy our meal and I absolutely would go back. In fact, I’d love to try some of their other concepts. But, in this age of servers bending over backwards to describe the food you are about to consume, there was not one shred of discussion by anyone about any item on the menu before we were asked to order. It was really baffling. They did, however, make a big effort to help us find wines that we enjoyed as their list is quite extensive.
Everything on the menu looked delicious, but we had to make our choices. The appetizers ranged from warm marinated olives and a charcuterie and cheese board to an heirloom salad and Spanish octopus (+$5) that was carefully debated by our group. In the end, here are the four dishes we ordered. There was more than enough food for everyone by the way.
Melizana Dip, featuring smoky eggplant and garlic, topped with black sesame seeds and served with warm grilled pita bread. This was delicious…
Local burrata was served with treviso radicchio, pear and had a light dressing with meyer lemon. We enjoyed this with some crusty bread. Beautifully plated and tasty…
Who doesn’t like a Tuscan kale salad? Not us! This one included some pumpkin, marinated red peppers, candied walnuts and Jersey Girl colby cheese. I wish I had a plate of this right now!
Not pictured is Ricotta Toast that was topped with a mix of arugula, delicata squash, goat horn peppers, pepitas and Cretan honey. The dish had good flavor, but you had to cut the toast with a fork and knife and truthfully it was a bit cumbersome and messy to eat.
For our entrees, there was so much to choose from including two types of handmade pasta, a grilled berkshire pork chop, beef, scallops, a daily catch and branzino.
We opted for the Cascun farms chicken baked “under a brick” that was served with crispy fingerling potatoes and green. Moist and delicious and the potatoes were super crispy. My only criticism might be the uneven browning of the bird…
Risotto with saffron, wild mushrooms and fennel was creamy and cheesy…
And the piece de resistance (sorry no accents in my wordpress), the salt baked whole fish (+5) that was brought to the table on a wooden board and ushered away to reveal the tender, moist fish underneath that was delicious. Forgive me that I do not recall the type of fish used here, but nonetheless it was a crowd pleaser…
Funny enough, one of my friends was joining her husband later that evening to spend a few days in the city and guess where her husband booked to eat with their kids? Amali and without prior knowledge of our reservation. And while I’m at it, my husband came to New York the next day for business in the city and his client booked their lunch at, you guessed it, Amali, so it’s a pretty popular spot I guess! Husband’s table tried the octopus and he said it was yummy.
If you get to New York soon, check out Amali and in the meanwhile I will be waiting for an opportunity to visit one of their other restaurants in the city!
Until next time…
One Year Ago: Wild Cod Burgers
One Year and Three Weeks Ago: Quinoa, Spinach and Artichoke Casserole
Two Years Ago: Maple Roasted Carrot Salad
Three Years Ago: Homemade String Cheese
Four Years Ago: Cheese and Spinach Phyllo Cups
We are heading to NYC next weekend. Thank you for the recommendation. TY!
You’re welcome, Lin! Enjoy!
Great review and I’d like to try Amali. Periyali , there sister restaurant , is excellent Greek food ! Sounds like you enjoyed the Met with … Page ?!
Thank you, Pam! Glad to know you recommend Periyali!