In the heart of Linden, in a comfortable nest of its own, sits a beautiful building complete with an abundance of parking, fine external landscaping and miniature lights that lure you into the surprise of an extraordinary, well-decorated restaurant with high-style decor that includes fine Tuscan design to Venetian and Roman appointments.
III Amici is vast and accented very stylishly with large mirror treatments to avoid anyone having to stare at a blank wall. The large, highly sophisticated bar is very spacious and very up market. There is a provision for entertainment, which I will talk about later. There are at least two dining rooms on the first floor and the banquet room downstairs seats approximately 200 people. The waiters are all attired in formal tuxedos and the associate staff is in formal attire. The wait staff is especially courteous, extremely polite and efficient. Tables are spacious and comfortable.
After being seated by the Maitre D’, Stefanos, a leisurely drink order followed along with the splendid menus. Giovanni Lavorato, who is the owner, told us that the restaurant is 15 years old. His head chef is his brother Mario the chef, and the brothers hail from Calabria, Italy. The menu is especially ambitious, running through the obvious pesce and meats, including veal and chicken and pasta. The appetizers present a large array of selections, one of which is a signature appetizer, Spiedino Romano – a wonderfully prepared bread with the center removed and filled with mozzarella, which is dipped in flour and egg and fried with an anchovy sauce. A very hearty and deliciously tasty offering.
The Hot Antipasto is a medley of wonderfully stuffed mushrooms, stuffed clams, shrimp, peppers and fish and mussels. For those with hearty appetites, this is not to be missed. The special appetizer of the day, a generous offering of large oysters with a warm champagne sauce, would delight anyone’s palate. The salads are Caesar, Endive, Tre Colori and Arugula. The Arugula, in particular, features a tangy dressing. I could write a book on the soup, starting with Pasta Fagioli. This is served in a large, very beautifully decorated bowl with the finest of red and white beans in a chicken broth. It is best described as an elixir, a hearty soup with ample portions and spiced to perfection. Escarole Fagioli, another premium Italian soup with sauteed escarole together with wonderfully flavored beans, is in a garlic and oil broth.
The Stracciatella Romana, which is the Italian version of egg drop soup, meets all the tests of this great Roman dish. Eggs are dropped slowly into a pot of bubbling chicken broth and Parmesan cheese is added to make it a delightful dish. Pasta comes in at least 10 versions in this spectacular menu. The Linguine al Pesto fits the classical description of al dente as the linguine is topped with fine Parmesan cheese. Ravioli Bolognese again offers a very generous portion of ravioli together with the classical meat sauce, aromatic and tangy. Other pasta dishes are Rigatoni Amatriciana, Spaghetti Genovese, plus Lasagna. The pasta dishes at our table were enormous, beautifully presented variety of fish swimming in a piquant sauce over al dente pasta. The dish includes large, tender shrimp, clams, mussels and several varieties of fish served on a steaming hot, decorative platter fit for a king or queen.
Stuffed Shrimp includes a large portion of delectably stuffed shrimp with bread crumbs, cheese and crabmeat. A most tender presentation. This chef really knows how to cook fish and shellfish. The Sole Francaise, which was cooked to perfection in a lemon butter sauce, was grand. Other items on the fish menu included Shrimp Scampi, Stuffed Sole, Snapper Livornese and Calamari Marinara. I would like to eat my way through the fish menu. The meat menu is slanted strongly toward veal dishes and chicken dishes. However, in the writer’s mind, the Double Veal Chop reigns supreme. I ordered the veal chop grilled medium rare with no sauce. It was an absolute delight. The quality of the veal was such that it was fork tender. The subtle seasoning brings out the taste of veal to perfection. I highly recommend this dish.
The Filet Mignon Provolone presents an ample steak, beautifully seasoned in provolone sauce. Again, the quality of the beef and the subtleness of seasoning make it a must. The broiled lamb chops are double-thick, broiled and seasoned to enhance the taste of the lamb. They are perfectly grilled and one must have them in order to assure that they are a most tasty delight. The vegetables, Sauteed Broccoli, Sauteed Escarole, Sauteed Broccoli Rabe and Sauteed Spinach, make a great accompaniment for any of the entrees. During the mid-part of the dinner, music fills the air. Very soft mood music is a fine accompaniment to a perfect dinner. A lovely touch to fine dining.
Coffee of all types are available. Cappuccino, espresso and a most delightful dessert menu are available. The Cheesecake is a specialty. Chocolate Torte and Fruit Torte plus Ice Cream and Berries bring to a close a lovely evening of great dining. As you leave the restaurant, sounds of music make you desirous of your next visit to III Amici.