Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amalfi's Italian Restaurant

4703 NE Fremont St
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM daily, late night happy hour from 9 - close Monday through Saturday

I've been eating at Amalfi's for almost as many years as I've lived in Portland. I don't remember how I found it in the first place, but I can say that it was one of my go-to restaurants during college. It was--and still is--one of those places where the price of the meal includes salad, a beverage (depending on what you order, I suppose), and dessert (which means a choice of vanilla ice cream or spumoni--and I love spumoni). As a college student, it was perfect. And the portions were large enough that I'd have leftovers to last another day or two.

Amalfi's has changed A LOT since I was in college. They went through a massive remodel at some point, changing the entire layout of the restaurant. And I'm afraid that the cost of the construction has been tacked onto the price of every meal. I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't be able to afford frequenting the place as often as I did if I were still paying tuition. It's too bad, too. It is far more aesthetically pleasing, but I worry that the price of a simple plate of pasta might be keeping some people from enjoying their once-favorite spot.

Although I'd been in for dinner so many times over the years, this was my first time stopping by for happy hour. The sign on the door states that this place is THE number one place for happy hour in all of Portland. I'm not sure if I agree. They do have a lot to offer as far as food goes (and the prices start pretty low) but I feel that the very best happy hour needs to offer greater discounts on both food and drink. At Amalfi's, they offer just one discounted drink of the week. And it isn't much of a discount.

The rest of the drinks (not including beer and wine) are priced between seven and twelve dollars. Twelve dollars is a bit steep, but I promise that's the only one on the menu (and it's made with Patron). Most are about seven or eight dollars. Since there were three of us--and we had plans to continue on to another happy hour--we opted for a half-carafe of the Sangria. It was light and refreshing (too bad it was too cloudy to sit outside on their beautiful patio--that would have been perfect), but a little too watery for my taste.

I only ordered one food item off of the menu (but was able to share some of the other plates at the table). There were plenty of other options for me (being a vegetarian), which is nice to see but somewhat normal at Italian places. (I'd do well in Italy, I'm sure of it.) I opted for the Mozzarella ala Caprese (otherwise known as a Caprese salad). It was only $3.95 and was quite tasty but not all that it was promised to be. The menu described it as being a combination of imported buffalo mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, basil and balsamic. They really skimped on the mozzarella (there were just a few chunks, not thick slices like at so many other places) and the vine-ripened tomatoes were just grape tomatoes.

Service was good, though. It was early and they weren't busy (we might have been the only people there) but our server was quick to greet us and happy to accommodate our requests.

Food: Nearly Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets (but could use a bigger discount on drinks)

Amalfi's Italian Restaurant
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