Give yourself up to melt-in-your-mouth desserts and attentive service
by Johnette Rodriguez
345 South Water Street
Open Tues - Sat 5 - 11 p.m
Bar open till 1 or 2 a.m. on Fri and Sat
Open 7 days beginning in February
Major credit cards
These days, people are so eager to open restaurants in Providence that the
closing of one establishment can be a blessing for another. Such was the case
for newcomer Amicus, which is now in the South Water slot previously run by
Ralph and Elise Conti.
The new owners, Tony and Peter Lucci, have maintained much of the stylishly
eclectic interior here -- modern wrought-iron railings, a concrete balustrade
complete with urns and griffins, a luxurious and expansive wood bar, and a
granite fieldstone wall behind the open kitchen. And all of this is a visual
medley from the mezzanine dining area for non-smokers. (A few tables near the
bar downstairs are for smokers.)
What changes the Luccis have made only serve to enhance the atmosphere at
Amicus. The ceiling, for instance, is black; the walls, two shades of coral.
This chic color combo caught my eye as we chowed down on our special appetizer,
smoked mussels with squid ink fettuccini ($8) appetizer. The black pasta was as
striking against the orange-bellied shellfish and their creamy coral sauce as
the surrounding decor.
Even prior to this treat, we had oohed and aahed over the complimentary spiced
olives (as many as five or six different kinds) and the crunchy, crusty
baguette, slices of which later came in quite handy for the terrifically herbed
sauce over the mussels.
Settling down to the main business at hand, my mate decided on the farfalle
with chicken ($15), while I picked the grilled swordfish with shrimp salsa
($18). Need I say more?
With the craze over salsas these days, it takes a really creative touch to
come up with something different, something that truly enhances the
entree the salsa comes with. But, somehow, the chefs at Amicus managed
to pull it off.
The thick steak of grilled swordfish, which had been timed perfectly to keep
it very moist, was accompanied by a cold "salsa" of rock shrimp, green peppers,
and scallions. Fortunately, this salsa was not spicy-hot, as this would have
fought with the smokiness of the fish.
This was all served over a bed of expertly julienned and sauteed summer
squash, zucchini and carrots, plus roasted potatoes that were a bit too salty
for my taste.
As for our other entree, the bow-tie pasta with chicken had been
deliciously enlivened with wild mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and asparagus.
Fresh garlic had been generously dispensed throughout this colorful melange,
and the whole of so many parts was quite fine.
The desserts at Amicus are homemade, and from the careful description of each
by our waiter, they all sounded good: tiramisu, creme
brulee, chocolate tart with creme a l'anglaise, and
a mocha chestnut torte ($6 each). We chose the chestnut torte, and it was
melt-in-your-mouth light and not too sweet -- a genoise whose bottom
layer was soaked in coffee syrup and whose filling was a chestnut puree, with a
light mocha frosting.
Put yourself in the hands of chef Tony when it comes to these desserts. And
put yourself in the capable hands of the waitstaff and host Peter for the rest
of the meal. From Peter's opening the door to greet us upon our arrival to our
waiter's genuine concern over the progress of our meal and the pleasure we got
from it, this dining-out experience made us feel pampered. And that's the way
it should be.