Thursday, January 19, 2017

Amore: Modern Italian Cuisine on Longboat Key

Opened in 2014 by chef Andrea Bozzolo and real estate developer Howard Rooks in the former Mattison's Steakhouse on Longboat Key, Amore was completely renovated and reconfigured as part of a half-million upgrade, which took some effort since the space had sat vacant since 2008. Originally built in 1986, Rooks made significant improvements to the building, tripling the size of its bar, installing a new electrical system, new carpeting, landscaping, and added new artwork to the restaurant’s collection. He declined to say how much he invested in the building, which he bought for $1.4 million in 2004. "It's one of the old grand dames of restaurants in Sarasota. There are no restaurants like this anymore." Rooks’ original partner in the venture was chef Andrea Bozzolo, owner of Andrea’s The Art of Food & Wine on Siesta Drive in Sarasota, however just before this past Christmas 2016, Bozzolo left Amore to focus on his Siesta Drive restaurant, and Angel Torres became the new head chef, who was previously the sous chef for almost a decade, working with executive chef Jamil Pineda, at Longboat Key’s Monkey Room Restaurant at the Colony. “If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with great chefs, and that’s exactly what I did.” That's amore!

Amore managers Liana and Tito Vitorino worked at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort 
from 1997 until it closed in 2010, and now manage the day to day operations at Amore

The outdoor Palm Garden of Amore

Amore's menu features modern Italian dishes

Fresh focaccia and mini baguettes

Whipped garlic butter, basil pesto and puréed sweet potato for dipping the bread and focaccia

Our server Ed opening our bottle of 2014 Picollo Gavi Di Gavi 'Rovereto'

Classic Caesar Salad with light homemade dressing and anchovies

Chicken Liver Paté served with caramelized onions, toast points and fresh fruit

Sweet Potato Soup

Arugula Salad served with ripe tomato, shaved parmesan cheese and house vinaigrette

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with garlic and basil white wine herb butter sauce

Lobster Ravioli

Cannelloni Amore stuffed with lobster, shrimp and crabmeat in lobster béchamel cream sauce

Spaghetti Bolognese with meatballs

Chicken Marsala
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Amore

4 chicken breasts, slightly pounded
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/3 cup veal demi-glace
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the chicken with salt pepper and sprinkle with flour. Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the chicken and sauté for 2 minutes on each side till golden. Add the Marsala wine let it evaporate. Add the demi-glace and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Classic Sausage & Peppers
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Amore

1 pound of Italian sausage, cut in 3-inch pieces
1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 red onion, julienned
1 cup fresh tomato sauce
3 oz white wine
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp fresh chopped basil and parsley
2 tbsp extra virgin oil 
1 cup of water

In a large sauté pan, sauté the sausage with the oil about 4 minutes until the meat is light brown. Add the white wine, cook and when the wine is evaporated add the bell peppers and onions. Cook together for 5 minutes and then add the tomato sauce and water. Cook on low heat for 25 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with the salt, pepper and the chopped herbs. Serve hot.

Zuppa di Mare
Serves 6  
Recipe courtesy of Amore

1 lb baby octopus
2 lb Florida spiny lobster
1 lb fresh clams
1 lb Prince Edward Island mussels
1/2 lb stone crab meat
1 lb fresh grouper filet
1 lb fresh snapper filet
2 garlic cloves
1/2 quart fresh pureed tomatoes
1 small bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large Dutch oven, combine the olive oil and garlic. Then, add the tomatoes, mussels and clams. After 1 minute, mix in the lobster meat, shrimp, grouper and snapper, and cook covered for 3 minutes. Add the crabmeat and octopus, but do not overcook or the octopus will toughen. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, parsley and basil. Serve with garlic bruschetta.