I’m always looking for family-run, out of the way restaurants that serve great food and have friendly good service. Over the years, I’ve added Gabriel’s Cheese Steak Hoagies in Ypsilanti, O’Sushi in Canton, Casey’s Tavern in Ann Arbor, and Polonia in Hamtramck to our family’s list of favorite restaurants. Sadly, we’ve had to say goodbye to favorites like Kabob King and Pizza Sicily, which have closed.
I’m glad I can finally add an Italian restaurant to our faves, Amici Italian Bistro in Plymouth, Michigan. Quality homemade food, quick friendly service, and a connection to tennis makes Amici one of our top picks for a meal.
Amici Italian Bistro is an intimate venue, seating around 30-40 people on the two floors of the 150-year old house. Opened in late November 2009, the two-month old restaurant is a family affair, run by brothers Jay and Jeff Lindsey.
Bright colored walls, black and white checkered tablecloths, wooden floors, and friendly servers and owners make for a cozy and comfortable place to share a meal and conversation with your family, a date, or just stop in by yourself. I stopped in for lunch last week, after visiting the Presbyterian Thrift Store next door, and had the entire second floor to myself.
Located in Old Village in a yellow house with white trim, the Italian and US flags flying outside the Mill Street doors are a great landmark (note: we’ve only used the entrances from Liberty and the parking lot behind the restaurant).
Whether you’re looking for a quick sandwich, fresh salad, or a more filling pasta dish, no price on the menu is higher than $11. What a treat! Enjoy quality homemade pasta with a house salad or cup of soup, in the $7 to $11 price range, and get a chance to talk with the owners. Can’t go wrong with that.
As you would expect, the menu has plenty of Italian favorites: spaghetti, fettuccini, penne, cheese or meat ravioli served with your choice of meat, marinara, oil and garlic, red or white primavera, or alfredo sauce. You also have the option to add meatballs, Italian sausage, mushrooms, or melted Mozzarella to your pasta. If you’re not in the mood for pasta, check out the five choices for salads and the more than half-dozen choices of sandwiches.
My favorite pasta at Amici’s? The house specialty: the lasagna. The first time we visited Amici’s on a late Saturday night, we stopped in for dessert (great choices!). The fellow at the table next to us ordered the lasagna entree. When he received his meal, I couldn’t believe how large it was!
I waited until he was done with his meal to ask how he liked the lasagna. “Fantastic!” he answered. His wife chimed in, “I thought it was great too, but it was much larger than I expected.” Her husband replied it was just the right size for him.
Well, there was no way I could eat that much food at a meal! Was I glad when I found out Amici’s offered a smaller portion of lasagna, from the appetizer section of the menu. Layered with cheese, pasta, and homemade meat sauce with a sprinkling of parsley on top, the lasagna was cooked to perfection (noodles weren’t overcooked), steaming hot, and delicious.
My husband had the fettucine, topped with meatballs and served with marinara sauce, a light tangy sauce that is great for dipping the garlic bread into. Oh, did I forget to mention the garlic bread? The brothers Lindsey top the garlic bread with herbs and toast it to a golden brown. Yum!
Suggestion to Jay and Jeff: consider serving Italian bread with the pasta dishes. Customers can order the garlic bread as a side, but give the option to have bread with a meal without ordering another item. When I dine by myself, even a half-order of garlic bread is too much for me.
One thing our family really enjoys at Amici is the homemade house salad dressing, a simple vinagairette with an extra amount of vinegar. I know it’s a small thing, but salads are big with our family. Amici also has a homemade Ceasar salad dressing, but we haven’t tried it yet. Another thing we appreciate at Amici: salads are always made to order.
We’ve tried three salads at Amici’s, Italian Cobb, Tuna & Pasta, and the Italian House. The $9 Italian Cobb Salad is amazing and huge! The fresh lettuce greens (no chunks of iceberg lettuce here) with gorgonzola cheese, topped with chicken, bacon, egg and slices of red onion and diced green peppers have made the Italian Cobb my son’s favorite dish.
The Tuna & Pasta Salad ($7) had plenty of flaky albacore tuna, served with penne pasta, provolone cheese, Roma tomatoes, good-size pieces of chopped green onion (I hate those small chopped green onion pieces you can’t pick up with your fork), and tossed with the yummy house dressing.
It’s the middle of January in Michigan. We all know fresh vegetables are shipped in from outside of the state. Restaurant salads can be hit or miss in January; we’ve had restaurant salads with brown lettuce and tomatoes with no flavor.
But not at Amici’s. The romaine lettuce is crisp in my Italian House Salad. I love the delicate rings of red onion, chunks of Roma tomatoes, fresh cucumber slices and croutons dusted with parmesan cheese. And, yes, the housemade salad dressing has just the right mix of vinegar, oil, and herbs.
Prices for panini sandwiches (served with a side of pasta or chips) are a low $7-$8. While there’s a great selection of sandwiches, chicken caesar, chicken parmesan, meatball, italian sausage are just a few of the selections, we haven’t tried them yet, focusing on the pastas with homemade marinara sauce and the tasty fresh salads with homemade house dressing.
We’ve gotten to know co-owner Jay during our visits; he’s a former tennis pro and we chat about tennis when we stop in (tennis is a big sport in our family). This past week was no different when we stopped for lunch, and discussed the latest results for the 2010 Australian Open. As the sunlight streamed through the southern bay window, we enjoyed a delightful lunch on the main floor.
The Lindsey brothers have plenty of experience in the restaurant business, previously running a Salvatore Scallopini and Amici Italian Grille. Authentic, homemade “The Old World Way” is how Jay and Jeff describe the food served at Amici Italian Bistro. I agree!
Cannoli, Tiramisu, and cheesecake are on the dessert menu along with Italian chocolate mousse cake (for all you chocoholics!) and profiterole. From personal experience, I can tell you the cheesecake is very good! Smooth, rich with ricotta cheese and no graham cracker crust, it quickly disappeared from the plate. I’m planning on ordering the cannoli on my next visit.
For dessert, try something unique: order the profiterole. Imported from Italy (Jay admits there’s no way he could make it better), profiterole is a light cream puff, dipped in milk chocolate, surrounded by chocolate mousse, and topped with whipped light cream.
We split it between two people; perfect for your sweet tooth! The mousse and whipped cream are light and airy, the cream puff dipped in chocolate is scrumptious!
The Lindsey brothers and their staff are wonderful hosts, and take time to talk with their customers. We’ve enjoyed our meals at Amici-I know word is spreading about their good food. Last weekend, we tried to have dinner at Amici, but the line was almost out the door from the people visiting Plymouth for the annual Ice Festival.
First and only time we haven’t been able to get in for a meal. We’ll be back!
Location and hours
Amici Italian Bistro is located at 710 North Mill, Plymouth, Michigan 48170 (map). They’re open seven days a week in the winter, from 11AM to 9PM. Carryout is available, check their menu on their website and call 734.335.7801 to place an order.