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|Amici Family Restaurant offers glutten-free penne and pizza.|
Amici Family Restaurant in Bergenfield has a South Washington Avenue address, but if you approach it from the south on that street, as we did, the papered over door and windows might make you think it went out of business.
Just turn the corner onto East Clinton Avenue to see the real entrance, as well as tables with umbrellas and chairs for outdoor dining, and the parking lot.
Sure, you can get pizza here -- 12-inchers baked in a gas-fired brick oven -- but you'll also find an extensive menu of pastas, veal and other Italian-American food made with care, using mostly good ingredients.
As first-time visitors, we ended up ordering too much food and spending too much money -- over $70 for three, with tax and tip. Filet mignon for $21.95 is the priciest dish on the menu.
I wish restaurants would indicate if salads and other dishes are suitable for sharing or maybe the server could provide that information.
My wife and I ordered salads, and each could have fed two or three people.
The bowl of chicken soup my son ordered filled him up, so he hardly made a dent in his prime-rib hero. We took home plenty of leftovers.
My wife chose The Amici Salad, which is diced ham, other meats and cheese served with tomato, red onions, hot peppers and olives-- sort of a chopped, cold antipasto ($10.95). Still, my wife wanted more lettuce in it.
I had the seafood salad from a list of specials, and was delighted by the fresh shrimp, clams and mussels, as well as squid and octopus, but thought imitation crab had no place in this beautifully dressed dish ($13.95).
I ordered two other items from the specials list for us to share: broccoli rabe with hot sausage, and a fish-cake appetizer made from wild-caught red snapper and potatoes, with homemade tartar sauce ($8.95 each).
I picked out the broccoli rabe, leaving the sausage for my wife and son, but they didn't finish it. The large, freshly made fish cake was the best thing I had.
My son didn't finish his bowl of chicken soup, complaining the white meat was dry ($5.50). Doesn't everyone know the best chicken soup uses dark meat on the bone?
The big, gooey prime-rib hero, made with sauteed onions and melted mozzarella, was delicious, my son said, though he forgot to ask for hot peppers ($9.95).
The restaurant offers glutten-free pizza and penne, but no spinach or argula as a topping for the pies.
Amici has an $11.95 early bird special Mondays to Thursdays, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. You get a chicken, fish, eggplant or veal entree with pasta, soup or salad, coffee or tea and one soda.
Amici Family Restaurant, 127 S. Washington Ave.,
Bergenfield; 201-374-1996. BYO. Open seven days.