Yet another amazing restaurant in Shoreditch! I’d spent the entire week trying to decide whether I wanted to go here, where the menu is huge and has everything you could possibly want from a British-style Italian restaurant, or whether to go to Lardo, which looked to be a little more authentic, with a much smaller menu and more alternative/unique options. In the end, I decided that I wanted a giant pizza, a huge variety of food and after a long day in London, I couldn’t be bothered to travel to London Fields to go to Lardo, so I finally came to a decision!
Amici Meie is just a few minutes’ walk from the hugely confusing roundabout at Old Street, where a lot of my favourite places seem to be close to – Lantana, Ozone Coffee Roasters and Friends of Ours are all just a few minutes’ walk away. The outside looks modern – almost too modern – but the inside is relaxed and cosy, with a wooden tables and chairs and a leather sofa for larger groups. It’s a decent sized restaurant, with a two-level seating area.. I think the upper level is probably used more for drinks and snacks, as everyone eating was seated on the lower level. I was most excited for their pizzas – sourdough pizzas are my favourite, and they liken theirs to Neapolitan pizzas, proving them for 48 hours before cooking them in a wood fired oven.
Their menu is huge. Much as I often say that I think some of the best restaurants only offer small menus of the highest quality, when it comes to Italian I can be so greedy – I want to eat everything! Pizza, pasta, meats, cheeses, breads and fried everything.. I want to try it all! So when a place offers this much variety I can’t help but get excited! They have a section for Italian tapas which features the usual items like arancini, meat balls and bruschetta, but they also have deep fried mozzarella, deep fried sourdough and Panzerottini Fritti (deep fried folded sourdough with tomato, mozzarella and oregano), aka heaven! The pan fried goats cheese with caramelised onion was simple but heavenly – and surprisingly my stomach didn’t go into meltdown after I demolished the whole round of cheese! We ordered a mix of breads and antipasti – bread and olives, rosemary focaccia and of course the Frittura Di Mare (deep fried fresh squid, tiger prawns and garlic mayo). It wasn’t your standard calamari – there were whole battered prawns and a few baby squid (as well as squid rings). The batter was deliciously light, though there was far less of it than a usual calamari – it was more of a light coating than a batter, which made a nice change even if it wasn’t what I was expecting.
The focaccia was probably the only part of the whole meal that I found really disappointing. Rather than the fluffy, doughy bread brushed with olive oil and sea salt that I was expecting, we were served flat, crispy discs. You just about got a bite of soft, doughy bread round the outside, but the rest was thinner and crispier than a toasted tortilla wrap! It was seriously lacking in taste too, with the odd sorry sprig of rosemary being the solitary source of flavour. Definitely give that one a miss.
I wanted to order the Antipasto Misto (a selection of Italian meat, cheese and grilled vegetables), but the waitress decided to tell us that it would be ‘far too much food’ as that also came with bread. Don’t you hate it when that happens!? Unphased and used to people doubting my appetite, I was up for getting it anyway but my friend doesn’t eat much and she was pretty hesitant so we left it. Much as I think waiters and waitresses think that they’re trying to be helpful, I’m not that keen on them questioning what I want to order, and they certainly don’t do a good job of judging how much I can eat 😉
For mains I went for the Deliziosa pizza – mozzarella, aubergine, courgette, mushrooms, parmesan and parma ham. It was every bit as delicious as I’d hoped – light, fluffy sourdough crusts with generous toppings. It wasn’t quite Franco Manca good, but it was a bloody good pizza nonetheless. We also got a couple of pasta dishes in half sizes to share – Ravioli al Granchio (crab ravioli in a cherry tomato sauce) and Al Cinghiale (parpadelle with wild boar ragu). The ravioli was absolutely delicious, even if the portion size was pathetic – three ravioli. Three. That means someone who ordered the full size for their main course would have got five or six. The filling was delicious though, if somewhat scarce. It had a slight hint of lemon and the bisque it was served in went perfectly. The parpadelle was a slightly less stingy portion and it was equally delicious. The pasta was cooked al dente and served with a rich, meaty ragu. It was perhaps missing a few parmesan shavings (I was surprised they didn’t offer some) but other than that I couldn’t fault it. For me the pizza was definitely the highlight though, but I’m definitely biased as I’m pizza obsessed!
For dessert, my friend was uncomfortably full, and nothing really jumped out at me to be honest – they offer the usual Italian desserts which I’m not hugely keen on like tiramisu, mousses, panna cotta and pastries with ricotta. I had some (okay.. a lot of!) cakes from Kontidor and Cook, as well as a mountain of Oreo cake which my friend had baked for me, so I was happy to head home and devour those while she nursed her food baby! I really need to refine my sweet taste buds, and not always head for chocolate, cake and cookies at every opportunity.. but I guess I have plenty of years to grow up 😀
Overall, this restaurant scored pretty highly for me. They have a huge menu where you can order every type of pizza you could dream of, I love how many starters/antipasti/sides they offer and you can get half portions of pasta too which is perfect for me as I can never decide! You can actually book too – hooray! No waiting outside in the cold or going there not knowing whether you’ll be eating in 10 minutes or two hours! If you’re in a rush, they have a takeaway-style place called Amici Meie 2 Go, where you can get a decent selection of pizzas and some lasagnas.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Worth going out of your way for: Probably not – try it if you’re in the area, otherwise there are plenty of other Italian restaurants!
Would I go back: Probably, though I’m not sure when – I definitely want to take Marcus, but I also want to take him to about 5000 other places!
Link to their website: http://amicimiei.co.uk