Amarone is the type of restaurant on Ninth Avenue that is easily overlooked. There is no flashy awning, no promises of a free appetizer with a drink order, and no thumping house music.
Plainly put…it is a delight.
The restaurant, a classic New York Italian eatery, is small but well designed. The decor is tired but clean, and feels like somewhere that you would stop with a friend before catching a movie. The price point hovers between $15 and $25 for an entrée, and the portions are filling – you won’t leave here hungry.
This half portion is a wonderful example of an old school Caesar salad. A mild version with none of the pungent anchovy taste that makes some people cringe, this is creamy and redolent of salty Parmesan cheese. The homemade croutons are crisp and a little spicy, perfect for soaking up the rich dressing.
Some of the pasta at Amarone is fresh, but the rigatoni is dried. This results in a more al dente pasta, which works well with the velvety eggplant and the stretchy mozzarella. As the dish sits while you eat it, the cheese melts and gets gooey, a welcome counterpart to that meaty eggplant. The sauce is delicious, sweet and tastes purely of tomato. This is not a complex sauce, but a very well made one, exactly what you feel like when you order a plate of pasta with tomato sauce.
That is the whole thing about this place – it isn’t complex, but it is very well done. The service is fast, the portions are great, and the food is just what you feel like eating.
And, every now and then, on Ninth Avenue, it’s nice not to be offered a body shot along with your check.