The limelight can be fleeting for new restaurants in Houston. The competition is fierce. The truly successful restaurants often understand that while headline news is a good thing, cultivating a loyal base of local customers is even better. And I suspect, that’s exactly what Amalfi, the new spot in West Houston on Westheimer, is aiming to do.
The glowing reviews suit Amalfi—the food is very good. In addition to the food, the service and hospitality stand out. Amalfi feels like a spot with a lot of good mo-jo! The kind of neighborhood restaurant you’d visit over and over again.
Amalfi’s dining room with its pristine white tablecloths isn’t large, but its menu selection is. As you’d expect, the menu is heavily influenced by the sea. But, meat lovers you won’t be disappointed as there are plenty of beef options too, even authentic pizzas.
The bright Amalfitana salad [above] is a fresh mixture of octopus, cuttlefish and shrimp dressed with a light lemon vinaigrette…a perfect start to any meal. I must admit a bit of regret that I didn’t also order the pan seared caramelized diver sea scallops—they’re dotted with sea salt and drizzled with a black truffle sauce—an appetizer I saw over and over again being delivered to nearby tables…tables full of big smiles, I might add.
There are a number of yummy homemade pasta choices on the menu (See: Amalfi’s Spaghetti Alle Cetarese) like the fusilli with a traditional rich, creamy egg sauce, topped off with pancetta and black pepper. Another temptress—the calamari ring-shaped pasta served with squid ink sauce. Once a fan of squid ink, always a fan!
The filet of Mediterranean sea bass with roasted baby artichokes was quite tasty with its colorful saffron sauce. The tiny artichokes reminded me of the same delicacy I first tasted some years back in Trasteverde in Rome…a dish I haven’t seen done as well until now:
The fork tender veal osso buco [below] was also delicious. The sauce was a nice balance of tomato and carrot…one didn’t dominate the other. And, the finishing bites delivered by the marrow fork were divine!
Wine lovers, it’s all Italian on the menu which means the selections pair wonderfully with the food. Cocktails and beer are also available.