Amici Pizza and Bistro in Northeast Minneapolis

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Editor’s Note: Amici Pizza and Bistro is now closed.

Although Amici Pizza and Bistro is so newly opened that its liquor license has yet to arrive, it seems likely the restaurant will soon, as the name suggests, be fast friends with its neighbors in Audubon, if not the city at large.

Tucked into the old Snap Pizza location in a strip of shops on Johnson Street, Amici has a cozy neighborhood vibe. The walls are the color of red clay and textured, bringing warmth to the row of comfortable, maple booths that runs the length of the dining room and is punctuated by the kitchen. Clanking dish sounds mingle pleasantly with crooners like Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson, and it smells like bread and warm tomatoes.

Possibly, a suggestible diner dreaming of pizza imagined that last bit, but you get the picture.  Speaking of which, we could not embrace the two giant HDTV screens that perched over diners at either ends of the hall, silently broadcasting what must be the single most inappropriate programming for an Italian restaurant: “The Biggest Loser.” According to the Twin Cities Daily Planet, owner Greg Pratt hopes the TVs will bring folks in for beer and a casual bite during sports events, but bobbing around in our peripheral vision, they were just a distraction, even without sound or subtitles.

But not so much that we didn’t enjoy the hell out of the mixed green salad ($8), which combined apple, hazelnuts, prosciutto and a sweet pomegranate vinaigrette to wonderful effect. There was a mild grana padano in the salad, too, but while it was delicious to nibble, it got a bit lost in the mix.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The table pretty much fought over the steamed mussels ($8), elbowing each other away from the bowl so that we could dunk our bread in the broth — we tasted wine, butter, garlic, possibly fennel, tomato, and sweet red pepper — and grab the mussels, which were consistently sweet, plump, and tender. The only misstep here was that there weren’t any spoons, so we were forced to slurp the remaining broth out of our shells.

We enjoyed the briny tenderness of our oven-roasted chicken ($16), but even more so the sweet parsnip puree that accompanied it — a nice juxtaposition with a pile of rather strong, roasted Brussels sprouts and pancetta.

Apparently, the restaurant space came with a $13,000 pizza oven, and Chef Cam Adair, formerly of Prima, has put it to good use. Of note is a specialty pizza ($10 – $19) that included oven-dried tomatoes, spinach, toasted garlic, and fresh mozzarella. The thin crust was lovely: slightly crisp, slightly chewy, it fell somewhere between Pizza Luce and Punch Neapolitan. The fresh mozzarella was tasty, but we appreciated that it was sprinkled in little daubs over the pizza, so it didn’t overwhelm the super-sweet roasted tomatoes.

Over all, though, we favored the tomato and red-wine braised beef ($16), primarily for the beautiful meat, which fell apart on the plate and melted in our mouths. It was served with a creamy polenta and slightly charred — in a good way — escarole, which once again added a nice bitter note to the plate.

Oh boy, we didn’t need it, for the portions at Amici are generous, but the vanilla bean crème brulee ($5) provided a velvety finish to a very pleasant meal.

BEST BET: Red-wine braised beef, fall-apart tender and rich in flavor.

Amici Pizza & Bistro

2851 Johnson St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
612.781.5711
OWNER / CHEF:
Greg Pratt / Cam Adair
HOURS:

Closed Mondays
Tue-Thu, Sun: 11am-2:30pm, 4:30-9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-2:30pm, 4:30-10:30pm
Sunday Brunch: 9am-2pm
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: Yes / Yes on weekends
ENTREE RANGE: $9-17
BAR: Liquor license in process (as of Mar. 5, 2010)

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About the Author

Susan Pagani

Susan Pagani is a Minneapolis-based editor and writer. Her work has previously appeared in newspapers and magazines in Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Berkeley. She has also contributed essays to Minnesota Lunch and The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food.

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25 Comments

  1. Any word on their delivery options (if any)? Northeast is lacking for goof pizza delivery, though fortunately my address was just updated to the downtown Luce delivery zone.

  2. you say snap, and i say fitness– not pizza. so by name alone, this sounds like an improvement!

    did the crust have any char on it? i love the black bubbles.

  3. @Kate – Their website says “We deliver”, so you’re in luck.

  4. bummer they don’t have their liquor license yet as I will be eating there on Saturday, but I am excited to have a new place down the street to try.

    Too bad about the TVs though. I don’t really see a connection between Italian bistro and twins games. I hate that so many places feel having a TV is necessary.

  5. Author
    Susan Pagani 03/05/2010 Reply

    Kate,

    I talked to the folks at Amici, and their delivery range is:

    Central Avenue NE to Stinson Boulevard and 18th Avenue NE to 37th Avenue NE.

    There’s a take out menu on their website, too.

    The pizza, as I recall, had that nice slightly blackened crust that comes with a dusting of flour, if that helps.

    Susan

  6. I can’t wait to try this place and hopefully frequent it as I live a block away!!! I think that the TV’s are a good and a bad idea. May be an annoyance when your trying to have a romantic dinner, but certainly will be great when it’s a Wednesday and they aren’t busy, and I want to get a beer, or glass of wine and watch a game with some hopefully great pizza!

  7. The TV’s will now be left off during dinner and only will be used when the restaurant sees fit. They will just be an option and not a distraction. There have been mixed comments about them. Some don’t see the connection, however others would like them when they are enjoying a nice bottle of wine with the Bucatini and Favre is leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl! Hope everyone enjoys the restaurant.

  8. That’s funny – “enjoy a nice bottle of wine” while watching TV. They don’t have a liquor license yet. I personally hope they remove the TVs by the time they get to serving that wine. I see it as a nice bistro where you can enjoy a good dinner with friends. Not some pizza joint to watch touchdowns! Tacky.

    We went last week. Highly recommend! Cam did a great job with the menu! Now my friends from SW Mpls will be coming into our hood for a great dinner!

  9. bummer about the delivery zone. I think they’re doing themselves a disservice not stretching 10 minutes away from their location. I suppose we don’t order pizza very often, but it would be an nice thing to have for us “lower” eastside folks

  10. Kim – what did you have that was so bad? Or do you work for the competition? Because we were there Saturday night and had a fabulous dinner! We had the goat cheese appetizer, a specialty pizza, and the chocolate cake – which ROCKED!. And it couldn’t have been BETTER! They were all KILLER! And our service was excellent too. I hope Amici hangs around a looooong time!

  11. Joann, I tried emailing “Kim” for some clarification… and, not surprisingly, the email address was invalid. There will always be folks who pseudonymously post hostile comments (generally unscrupulous competing businesses), but we’ll do our best to spot them.

    James Norton
    Editor
    The Heavy Table
    http://heavytable.com

  12. larson 03/08/2010 Reply

    Was wondering what brunch at a pizza place would be, but the bacon and egg pizza was the only “pizza place” item on the menu. It was as tasty as it was a cute idea. (“Cute” might not be fair; it was actually fairly sophisticated and perfectly cooked.) But the real showstopper was the french toast. Very sweet, with blueberry and creme fraiche, but delicious.

  13. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this opening since the horror that was Snap! pizza can not be displaced soon enough.

    Two notes on deliver. The range may be tight, but for that area – it’s the first good option we’ve had in years. Also, I’m not sure the delicate crusts holds up in the box too well. I did take out and was ten minutes late in picking up and it did not fare too well.

    Brunch on the other hand was fantastic. The braised beef is there, and the breakfast pizza was creative and balanced.

  14. Their pizza is our new favorite! And had the fish special (striped bass) a couple weeks ago and it was cooked perfectly!

  15. This place is fantastic. I love their pizza, it’s better than Punch (my former favorite). Their salads are also fantastic, and the antipasto was good (though it could have had more meat).
    Yum!
    Too bad I’m out of their delivery zone.

  16. Hey….I just heard that Amici FINALLY got their liquor license! Spread the word….we’re going there tonight!

  17. Living in Northeast has brought an amazing group of restaurants within the last three years or so- all with something unique. After the previous restaurant, Snap had left; we did feel we had lost an upscale pizza choice with delivery. When Amici opened in this year, we were paid back and given much, much more.

    Not only do they serve and deliver fresh, creative pizza, but they offer a brilliantly prepared selection of pasta dishes, entrees, and irresistible desserts. My partner and I visited Rome and Florence in April. I have to say, Amici brings us back to that experience every time we go. The gnocchi dish in particular reminds us of a meal we had at a small cafe in Rome right outside the Vatican last Easter.

    With Amici, we have consistently received remarkable food, excellent service, and an enjoyable yet unpretentious atmosphere. Now that they serve beer and wine, of course, it’s that much better. I’m not sure how big their delivery area is, but we are grateful we are in it!

    Clearly if you live in Northeast, it would be a crime for someone not to try this outstanding addition to our collection of amazing neighborhood establishments. If you live anywhere in the in the metro, it would be well worth the trip. I guarantee you won’t go just once.

  18. 25% OFF July and August to celebrate their GRAND OPENING! Check out their web site: http://www.amiciusa.com

  19. Lil' Nomes 07/14/2010 Reply

    Ate here last night, had the Hollywood pizza and it was fantastic. Can’t wait to go back!

  20. Sophia 01/25/2011 Reply

    Had dinner here on Saturday. The orecchiette was delicious! However, I was disappointed to see that the tv was turned on while we were eating. Not only was it distracting, I felt that the show airing (involving graphic crime scene investigations) was inappropriate for dinner service. Next time, I hope that it’s either turned off or tuned in to a more “appetizing” program. Otherwise, I have no complaints and am looking forward to going back!

  21. So this place is closed? And is there still nothing in the Pop spot?

  22. Hazel’s is in the Pop spot.

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