February 2007 Food Charity
Valentine's Day Menu

Amici Miei

I've been a lucky bastard since I moved to my new place considering all of the awesome restaurants that are now a 5-minute drive away -- like Joe's Noodle House, Amici Miei, India Grill, Passage to India, Faryab, David Craig, Ray's the Classics, and uh...Hooters. The wings are really good, I swear! I've probably been to Amici Miei a lot more than the others. I'll usually go a little out of my way coming home from work to pick up some takeout.

It was about a year ago that I first went to Amici Miei. I'll admit that the only reason I ever went there was because they suddenly appeared on Washingtonian's 100 Best (Yes, I have read the latest 100 Best and like the rest of you I'm a little blown away by some of the restaurants that were included this year, but that's another topic and one of my favorite restaurants, Il Pizzico, was missing again). I don't remember much from one year ago, let alone one month ago, but one of the things I do remember was how good the service was.

The service never seems to suffer no matter how busy the restaurant is. One night when Amy and I stopped by sans reservation, the host was able to squeeze us in and despite the restaurant being almost completely full, our service was spotless and the server still managed to maintain an amicable attitude despite probably being overloaded with tables.

Amici Miei is a neighborhood restaurant. I say that because it's family friendly and inexpensive, and not necessarily because it's easy to get a table. During the week, you shouldn't have a problem getting a table, but in the weekend, you might wait a while and you're wise to make a reservation. But even then, sometimes you might find yourself out of luck depending on the size of your party. I tried calling last weekend with a party of six on a Saturday, and there was nothing available.

With Italian food, you all know that I'm all about the pasta. Amici Miei's standout pasta dish is their rich, homemade veal and chestnut agnolotti. At $14.95, it's the perfect winter dish, and comes served in a scant pool of veal and rosemary reduction sauce. Another favorite of mine is the gnocchi with pillow-y soft potato dumblings topped with a thick boar and tomato ragu. I also appreciate that most of the pastas on the menu are homemade. But that isn't always a good thing in the case of the lasagna, with homemade lasagna noodles that have a tendency to get lost with all the cheese because they're thin and soft -- it just comes off as overcooked to me.

I've found that the entrees can be a mixed experience. As a basic rule I have to add some salt, which is possibly because my palate is becoming more immune to the flavor of salt, and since there are salt and pepper shakers on the table I guess it's good for the more health conscious. There's almost always a seafood special available like a whole branzino or some other type of sea bass, which is good, but not much different than how I can make it myself at home. In general though, I've always found the seafood dishes like the trout and turbot to be fresh, flakey and flavorful. Sometimes the accompaniments just don't seem to have a lot of thought put into them, like in the case of the green lentils that come on the side of the turbot that just don't seem to belong on the plate.

Veal is done very well by the chef. Both veal dishes come with a creamy polenta on the side, which is bland on it's own, but when you mix it with the other ingredients on the plate, it can be heavenly. As any neighborhood restaurant should, the chef keeps things interesting with an extensive specials menu. There are usually 2 or 3 choices for specials for each course which keep the regulars coming back.

I regret to say that I typically steer away from desserts at Amici Miei. I've been able to try most of them, and they're usually either dry or lacking the sweetness that's needed to complete my meal. Good examples of this are the ricotta cheesecake which is more cakey than creamy and a pear tarte with a dry crust and bland filling. It's too bad because I so love desserts with pears! If you find yourself craving something sweet, you can't go wrong with the tiramisu which is a traditional version or a tiramisu and is bound to please just about anyone. (Or just take an alternative route and order the cheese plate.)

Our bills for the two of us are usually under $100 and that's usually with a mid-range priced bottle of wine, dessert, and coffee which makes definitely qualifies Amici Miei in the cheap eats category.

Amici Miei
Located in Potomac Woods Plaza
1093 Seven Locks Rd
Rockville, MD 20854
Map

(301) 545-0966
www.amicimieiristorante.com

Hours:
Lunch
Mon-Sat: 11:30 AM to 2:30PM

Dinner
Sun-Thu: 5 PM to 10 PM
Fri-Sat: 5 PM to 10:30 PM

Details:
Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Plenty of parking at the strip mall. 
Closest Metro:  You'll have to drive.
Reservations: Taken and recommended on weekends.
Baby-Child friendly rating: 3 Diapers. The restaurant is very child friendly and it's common to see people there with their children.

Comments

djgroovyslug

Now now Jason. Those restaurants aren't five minutes from each other in any combination, so you must live in like, some floating house above Montgomery County :) Just playin. May we suggest Jackie's and Black's as your list to try and review?

Jason

The way I drive they are. ;)

Heather B.

I saw the menu for amici mei and it sounds delish. One day I'll try it when I'm not in some mad rush out there.

Lesly

Thanks for this--I've been looking for a new Italian place in the neighborhood. And yes I have to agree these places are a bit farther apart than 5 minutes, but since you do such good work for the community we can grant you a pass. I'm looking forward to more Mo. Co. recommendations.

Tate

Hi- I am in DC on business from Philly/South Jersey area and wondering if you can make a recomendation for anything in downtown. I would like to come in below 100.00 as much as possible w/o drinks. We like just about anything-Sushi-Italian-Indian-Mexican with our faves being Italian and Mexican.
Your space came up 1st in a google search!
We are staying @ Capital Hyatt and will be out and about the tourist sites on Sat...any lunch suggestions w/b great as well!!!
Thanks!

Kristen

I am very surprised by this recommendation of Amici Miei. I think the food is very disappointing. The pizza was doughy and had mp taste. The "basil" pizza had only one leaf of basil in the middle. The eggplant parm was soggy and the pasta was mealy and also tasteless. The service was nonexistent. Even by surburbia standards, this italian food was sub-par. We will never be back.

Steve

I dined at Amici Miei tonight. The service was pretty bad. Besides having a difficult time understanding the waiter through a heavy hispanic accent, I sat for 5 minutes before anyone came over to my table to bring water, bread, etc. Not very attentive at all. I had a salad, a pizza, and a glass of Sangiovese red wine. The pizza was outstanding. The wine left a good amount of residue in the bottom of the glass. I don't think that is a sign of decent glass of wine. Anyway...I may return, but something needs to be done about the service.

Mike Bober

Steve - I can't speak to the service or the food at Amici Mei, but I can speak to the sediment in your Sangiovese.

That is not necessarily a sign of poor quality. Many Italian red wines are unfiltered, which means that a certain amount of the 'must' (skins, pulp, etc.) can make it into the bottles. It doesn't really hurt the quality of the wine, but it makes for a messy (and unpleasant looking) finish.

If you know a bottle is going to have sediment in it (or suspect as much), the best bet is to pour it through a strainer when decanting the bottle. That will catch the sediment before it makes it into your glass.

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