Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amalfi’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, Mt. Pleasant, SC

More is Definitely More..

We literally stumbled upon Amalfi’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in the Belle Hall Shopping Center via an internet search (thank you Al Gore), and decided to give it a try.

Located in the back of the shopping center location, if you didn’t know it was there you might not find it, which would be a big loss – this restaurant was a nice surprise.

We were greeted by a very nice hostess and although it was somewhat early a few tables were full and there was a regular stream of customers picking up take out items.

If you’re looking for a place with energy, atmosphere, décor, or something trendy, this is not the place.  It’s clean and very plain (everything is yellow).  A few Italian items dot the walls, but it is very stark.  I wondered if the food would do the talking and I hoped it would.

Yellow walls may tint food shots
We were greeted by a very cordial and knowledgeable server who quickly asked us what we would like to drink. He then served us piping hot rolls (made in-house) served with an interesting dipping sauce.  The sauce was a combo of their house Italian dressing, herbs, diced carrots, a little spice and a hint of anchovy.  Although I thought it was terrific, my husband, not so much.  That’s OK – more for me!

We then began to review the menu and decide what to order, which was no easy feat! The menu is MASSIVE, it’s not large, it’s not big; it’s massive.  My rough estimate determined that there are approximately 64 menu items, plus a 6-item children’s menu and three nightly specials. Phew!

The menu includes appetizers, soups, salads, Stromboli, entrees, pasta, veal, house specialties, eggplant and on and on and on.  If you want a variety of Italian food, this is the place.

As we tried to ‘cull the herd’ and decide on what to order we found our server to be incredibly helpful.  He answered every question we had, and we had several. Not only is their menu large, but since everything is made in house and to order, you can have just about anything you want, any way you’d like it.
Rolls and Oil (and everything looks yellow even after Photoshop)
I finally pared my selection down to Amalfi’s Seafood Combination which was similar to a Fra Diavlo (of the devil), pasta creation with shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels.  This was served with my choice of a soup or salad, and I chose the salad.

My husband also went the pasta route with their Boscaiola a combo of house-made spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and marinara sauce tossed with penne pasta. He selected a soup instead of a salad.

His soup, “Fiorentina” (aka Spinach Florentine), was served almost too hot to eat. It was filled with pieces of fresh spinach, bits of chicken in a nice light broth. It was a nice beginning to what I hoped would be a memorable meal. 
Spinach Soup

My simple green salad topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion was terrific. You’re probably thinking, “Hmm, nothing special here.”  I would agree, but the vegetables tasted like they were picked just before they were served and their creamy Italian dressing had a hint of raspberry, which was unique, delightful taste.

House Salad
Before we knew it our entrees were served and I worried if our dishes, mine in particular, would be able to fit in the frame of a picture.  My pasta dish was topped with 7 mussels, 4 clams, 6 shrimp and a smattering of calamari.  It was really something to see, and not only was it delicious, it was dinner the next night.

The Boscaiola also was a heaping portion of spicy sausage and crisp, fresh, vegetables was also outstanding.  The only thing that my husband said was that he wished that there was more sausage – not because the portion was so small, but because it was so good.  At $13.75 and $11.75, respectively, how can you go wrong?


Amalfi Seafood Combination
As we were about to pay our check a gentleman approached the table and asked us if we’d enjoyed our meal.  Come to find out that this was the owner, David. Amalfi’s arrived in the United States from Naples, Italy where the family has two restaurants.  David and his family decided to come south and settled in Mt. Pleasant. 

I asked him, “How did you pick Mt. Pleasant?”  He said that in Naples he was used to mountains and the water and he had to be near the water.”  I also said, “You’re menu is a pretty big undertaking…”  He smiled and agreed.  He said that he and his wife sat down and realized they had to streamline the menu.  In doing so they found more recipes and items that they thought the customers would enjoy, so he again smiled and said, “So instead of getting smaller, it got bigger!”

Run don’t walk to this hidden gem, a place where more is definitely more. 

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