Tuesday, 09 November 2010 11:24
Amante's Bar and Café
Address: 21 Liberty Road Eldersburg, MD 21784
Phone: (410) 795-8888
Amante’s Bar and Café: If You Can Find it, You Won’t Be Let Down
A man by the name of Ray Kroc once claimed, “I’m not in the restaurant business, I’m in the real estate business”. Well that my friends was the man who in 1954 took over a small burger joint called McDonalds and proceed to turn it into a multi-billion dollar corporation by making greasy hamburgers and fatty fries conveniently available to the public. Here in Eldersburg there is a little pizza and pasta joint known as Amante’s Café and Bar that has decided to go a different route by offering really fresh, quality food, in a location that might as well be underground.
Sitting almost silently alongside liberty road a few miles down from the intersection at Route 32, Amante’s would be all but hidden if not for its freestanding marquis out front that while a nice attempt at easy publicity, also seems far too reminiscent of a bingo house billboard. The simple brick building has a sort of rustic, shackish appeal, however the hidden parking lot behind the restaurant doesn’t help the feel that you may be pulling up alongside an unsuspecting family’s country cottage.
Once inside Amante’s, my worries began to ease as I found myself inside a very small yet relatively classy little dining room that almost felt as though it were intentionally designed to be comforting and familiar. A dining room speckled with Italian themed decorations is generally a good indicator that you are about to be showered with cheap imitations of Italian dishes, but at Amante’s the décor model is to keep it simple and the less-is-more approach is mirrored in the food.
At first glance, the menu at Amante’s is a bit daunting, but as I read through it I found that though there was no shortage of dishes to chose from, it somehow didn’t feel overwhelming. If you’ve been to one of the many Olive Garden clones that are popping up all over town these days then you know how easily an Italian fare menu can start looking less like a list of dinner options, and more like a Sicilian phone book. At Amante’s there are plenty of options, but it is clear that none of them are on the menu just to fill the page. Be it the bevy of interesting pizza and pasta combinations, standard American and Italian light fare, low carb choices, and even a daily special entrée, Amante’s menu is always exciting and never lazy.
Having grown up in a large Italian family, naturally I take my pizza very seriously and while Amante’s won’t exactly be surmounting my Aunt Pina’s brick oven miracles, it does get a pretty enthusiastic thumbs up from me. Amidst the scramble to find the perfect toppings, so many pizza joints forget that good pizza starts with good dough but at Amante’s it is clear that the pizza experience is handled with care from start to finish. From the fresh tasty crust to the wide varieties of topping choices, to the quality cheese, Amante’s pizza is amongst the best in town. While some of Amante’s lighter fare can be a bit run of the mill such as the under-seasoned steamed clams and sausage appetizer or their house made crab dip with about three kinds of cheese too many, it is hard to go wrong with the entrees, especially their signature pasta dishes.
If you want to keep the night rolling after dinner, or you’re just looking for a fun spot to get a little rowdy, well then you’re in luck because downstairs at Amante’s there just so happens to be a sports bar that like it’s upstairs counterpart makes up for its lack of size with it’s welcoming atmosphere. The bar area is small and simple with sports themed décor, several television screens to watch your game of choice and a nice selection of beers on tap including a tasty house amber microbrew and a seldom seen chocolate oatmeal stout.
While the loud music and upbeat feel of the bar is in effect the exact opposite atmosphere of the relaxing, quiet dining room, both manage to provide an experience that far exceeds their face values. So, could the folks over at Amante’s learn a thing or two from Mr. Kroc? Well, probably yes, but when it comes to providing a quality meal and a great atmosphere for whoever does manage to actually find the place, Amante’s is all set.
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