An Adelaide institution – and go-to dinner spot for University of Adelaide tutors – Amalfi Ristorante sits neatly between Eckersley’s Art & Craft and a Cibo café on the north end of Frome Street. But, you probably already know that.
It feels like the place hasn’t changed since opening in 1981, still boasting the same bustling trattoria vibe that’s made it an Adelaide favourite. The most popular pasta dish is chicken in a cream sauce with pancetta, mushroom and dried apricot. The staff will enthusiastically recommend it and you shouldn’t be judgemental. It’s surprisingly balanced and full of flavour.
The pizza is probably what gets talked about most. Thick airy crusts, the Amalfi special over-topped with ‘the lot’. It’s the comforting taste of a suburban pizzeria without the terribleness.
Ask about the size of the pizzas and you may be pointed toward the paper menu – a circle graphic lightly printed in the centre. This is the size of the small pizza. The large is nearly twice as big and only a third of the cost more, so it’s worth to taking home for leftovers.
The bustling kitchen is visible from the indoor dining area and there are some alfresco tables. Service outside is as swift as indoors and the food always arrives in a timely fashion.
When parsley garnished main meals arrive (note: the entrée pasta is the size of a main anywhere else), the staff will offer a cracking of black pepper from an oversized grinder. They’ll also deliver stainless steel cups of chili oil and parmesan cheese at your request. The parmesan is the grated kind luckily, not the dandruff shelf stable type.
Amalfi, presumably named for the Amalfi coast in the Campania region, has nothing in common with the area as far as tastes are concerned, aside from selling pizza and pasta. The menu is filled with Australianised Italian fare in a quaint setting on a strange street with a pleasant but stark fitout. It’s always busy despite having seldom changed, bar the chalk specials board. But you know what they say: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
The best part about visiting is being able to indulge in familiar comforts without judgement, but with a little more finesse than the average ‘Oz-talian’ eatery. The food is good, the service is wonderful and there’s a certain kind of rush that comes from biting in to a mouthful of creamy apricot chicken rigatoni.