Former White Apron Catering Queen, and good friend, Jules Gollner thinks Amelia's Italian Cuisine in Downtown Gainesville is one her favorite lunch stops. "Chef Andy does a magnificent job of preparation, professional presentation and really good Italian food," Jules said. Chef Andy greeted us this lunch hour with a cordial smile and the suggestion I should try the Shrimp Fra Diavolo. The Chef was quick to point out the Fra Diavolo was on the spicier side of the menu. That's all right with the GLOB Master, my lunch consisted of fresh jumbo shrimp sauteed with garlic and spicy marinara sauce, served over linguini. The shrimp and the sauce were spicy, and they melded for a piquant, full. hearty flavor and crunch. My lunch was a three spotter lunch. Well I did have three nice tomato stains on my shirt after noon day meal. Jules always get the Eggplant Parmesan, image at right. Her lunch was a very nice presentation of thinly sliced eggplant layered and baked with Amelia's house sauce and cheeses. Jule's thought the lunch was excellent but with a little too much of the house sauce. BTW Zucherro's 'Diavolo in me' is an interesting music compliment to the Shrimp Fra Diavolo.
Friends, Italian cuisine create fun lunch!
My roots in Gainesville go way back in time to when the Gainesville Sun was actually located in the buildings where the Sun Center downtown resides. So when someone makes a suggestion about lunch in that very location, I jump at the opportunity.
Good friend, and former White Apron Catering Queen Jules Gollner, deciding Amelia's Cucina Casalinga in the Sun Center behind the Hippodrome would be our lunch spot, let me know in no uncertain terms that Amelia's knows how to cook Italian cuisine.
Ambience, good conversation, and a friendly setting are a large part of a good lunch outing in the GLOB Master's book. So for the sake of those advantages, I was ready to look another plate of tomato sauce, cheese, and penne pasta square in the eye.
Executive Chef and owner Chef Andy Fass has been overseeing what is considered one of Gainesville's flagship restaurants since 2007.
After finishing law school at the University of Florida, Chef Andy decided concocting culinary delights was his forte, not stewing over lengthy legal proceedings. Andy the proceeded to enroll in the New England Culinary Institute.
As the executive Chef of Amelia's, Chef Andy was excited about interpreting classic Italian dishes with his own cooking style, which consists of adding freshness and a healthier meatless approach to a casually elegant dining atmosphere. The Amelia's menu can viewed at the restaurant link below this feature.
With fans circulating the air comfortably on Amelia's front patio, we decided to lunch outside and observe folks meandering around the sidewalk that circles around the Hippodrome theater.
Jules and I started off lunch by sharing a Pompeii Salad, which consisted of romaine lettuce, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives, marinated vegetables. The salad was bright, fresh and seasoned perfectly with a light Italian vinaigrette. There was just enough dressing left on my salad plate, that I could enjoy it on some of the different breads and rolls in our bread basket. In particular, there were toasted sundried tomato bread slices in the basket that worked splendidly for mopping up the remaining dressing.
I recognized the entrees on Amelia's menu as many of the same entrees I have experienced in past Italian cafes. Jules selected the Eggplant Parmigiana: Thinly sliced eggplant layered and baked with house sauce and cheeses.
Noticing that the focus of the Chicken Parmigiana , bottom left in photo at right, was a large breast of chicken breaded and baked with house sauce, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese, I decided to give this chicken and house sauce a try.
I think I picked a winner here at ACL. The house sauce was very good – the flavor of the tomatoes was distinct and the red orb's acidic juices nicely married with the accent of herbs. The bread basket again provided assistance as I used another piece of bread to clean around the edges of my plate. The star of my lunch was the very plump, tender, juicy chicken breast that seemed to have absorbed the flavors of the house sauce.
Jules's eggplant parm won the award for VILE, as in "Visually Impressive Lunch Entree." You could see the lightly fried eggplant layered between cheese and house sauce in a beautiful impressionistic image of what an Italian lunch should be all about.
Jules and I shared our entrees. The eggplant was really good; I could taste the flavor of the eggplant and the crispiness of the battered crust.
The chicken breast, however, won the Italian taste test for me. All the flavors blended into a experience that had me shouting . . . bellamissio!
Chef Andy joined us and we had a good discussion about the Gainesville food world from the perspective of food people living the business of creating epicurean wonders. (I'm talking about Andy and Jules talking shop, not me.) Jule's mother must have not explained the 'don't play with your food' rule to her because she visually displayed her idea of a perfect cucumber sandwich to us with her leftovers.
I might have talked Chef Andy into gracing the pages of the GLOB with a story from time to time about how his impression of the Gainesville food scene. That would be a plus for the GLOB, and GLOBers.
This was an excellent lunch. The food was excellently prepared. Amelia's house sauce and bread basket were a most excellent accompaniment to some very well done Italian lunch entrees.
The Pluses and Minuses of Amelia's:
Amelia's + indicators: Attention to detail, fresh ingredients and a contemporary approach to excellent cuisine.
Amelia's - indicators: None noted. This was a perfect lunch with good food and excellent company.
Celebrating with an Italian dinner & movie
It was a birthday celebration for Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Staffer, Lynn Dirk, and her choice was dinner and a movie downtown. It was Amelia's Fine Italian Cuisine for dinner on the patio where the GLOB Content Editor dined on Suprema di Pollo Inverno (boneless checken breast with artichokes, capers, white wine, and lemon). Good friend and Cinema Verde Film Festival Director Trish Riley joined in the festivities and dined on Fettuccini Alfredo (fettuccini with parmesan cream sauce). The GLOB Master enjoyed a delicious Scaloppine Pizzaiola (veal scaloppini, peppers, mushrooms, and olives in an extraordinarily flavorful tomato and red pepper sauce). The dinner was topped off with a birthday surprise of Amelia's Chef Andy presenting the birthday GLOBer with a slice of birthday pumpkin cheesecake and a solo saxophone serenade of Happy Birthday. After dinner this birthday bunch adjourned to the Hippodrome State Theater to watch Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, and Jeremy Irons in the Wall Street disaster movie Margin Call, a compelling fictionalized portrayal of internal discovery of self made disaster and the subsequent salvage scramble, you could say it was a case of "If it's broke, let the brokers fix it by breaking it some more." The "Occupiers" might actually be on to something.
Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Amelia's. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS
- Phone Number: 351 373-1919
- Address: 235 S. Main Street #107, Gainesville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: Downtown
- Web Site: Amelia's
- Latitude: 29.648765
- Longitude: -82.323914
angie Tuesday, 15 October 2013 10:10 Comment Link
Just the thought of Amelia's makes my mouth water! I have never had anything less than marvelous at Amelia's. Always fresh and full of flavor, and the bread...oh my, awesome!! My all time favorite dish is the Gamberi alla Bettina which is sautéed shrimp with mushrooms, red peppers, and artichoke hearts in sherry over linguini. And, not to forget the Rollatni di Melenzane (eggplant rollitini)...no one does it better than Amelia's!!!
On point. Very nice write-up. If it's your birthday, Chef Andy plays happy birthday on the sax. That's personal attention to detail. You can not miss with the Suprema di Pollo Sorrentino. And to start, the Prosciutto e Mozzarella will blow your socks off. Chef Andy alone carves and serves this dish to perfection using fresh Mozzarella and the finest prosciutto de parma. Amelia's webpage offers menus, history, and even demonstrations of cooking techniques used by Chef Andy. Highly recommended. http://www.ameliasgainesville.com/
Adele Tuesday, 15 November 2011 23:23 Comment Link
I am a fan of GLOB's Lynn Dirk, Staff Writer, Content Editor.
I was pleased to read that she was able to really enjoy her birthday outing. The article has made me quite curious about trying Amelia's.
Jules Thursday, 15 September 2011 16:06 Comment Link
Amelia's was fabulous yesterday.
I admit I am stuck in a rut with the eggplant parm.When the weather cools off I will switch back to my Escarole soup.