Artists who've reached the highest level in their field sometimes step back to a more fundamental medium, like movie actors doing Broadway, musicians going unplugged, or Andy Warhol painting soup cans. Oh wait, that WAS his peak? Anyway, for stripped-down Roman fare from Philly's finest Italian chef, hit Amis, opening Thursday.
Building upon the success of his eponymous flagship (a Bon Apetit nominee for "Best Italian Restaurant in America"), James Beard Award-winning Chef Marc Vetri's shifting his focus to the straightforward simplicity of traditional Roman trattorias with Amis, a burgundy walled 70-seater w/ a zinc-topped bar, open kitchen, and butcher's block tables with church pew seating, at which to pray to the holy trinity, which of course includes the holy roast. Small plates include five takes on bruschetta (tuna & white bean, snails, eggplant caponata...), plus a selection of housemade salumi like fennel salami w/ marmalade and pork liver terrine & mostarda, while antipasti's split between fish-dishes like octopus w/ potato & olive, and meaty action like crispy sweetbreads w/ fennel marmalade, and polpettine (mini-meatballs) w/ tomato potato, the perfect culinary intro to telling your date "let's call the whole thing off". Along with Roman swipes at Vetri's signature pasta dishes including gnocchi alla Roman w/ oxtail ragu, and rigatoni w/ swordfish, larger plates run from seafood options like halibut w/ tomatoes, raisins & pine nuts, to meatier fare like pork & fennel pollen sausage w/ peperonata, and guinea hen leg saltimbocca -- unlike your childhood experiments with guinea pig leg, you don't have to explain this one to your science teacher.
Drinkwise, Amis slings specialty cocktails like the bourbon & marsala-fueled Cheechee, as well as draft brews like Yards Olde Bartholomew Barleywine and Brooklyn Backbreaker Ale, along with 18 bottles, including a dozen big boys like Schneider Aventinus, Panil Barriquee Reserva, and Birreria Le Baladin's Super Tripel, whose 8% ABV's guaranteed to finally get you your fifteen minutes of shame.