Last Saturday evening, in the heart of Dublin’s bustling Grafton Street, I found myself drawn to a small mosaic of hand painted tiles. These were the kind you'd expect to discover on the charming streets of Palermo, not here in The Pale.
These captivating ceramics adorned the entrance of Amuri (translated from the Sicilian word for “love”), beckoning me to step inside and explore the wonders that awaited.
As our party (4 diners) walked in, we were met by a warm embrace from Luca and his family, who run this restaurant like a true Sicilian family operation. Andrea, his brother, and mother greeted us at the door with the genuine, time-honoured hospitality that embodies the very essence of Italian love and togetherness.
The atmosphere inside was warm and inviting, providing a comfortable contrast to the activity on the streets outside. With approximately 40 patrons in the restaurant, Amuri maintained an intimate and private feel, making it a perfect setting for a memorable dining experience
Now, let's talk about the wines. The Donnafugata Grillo Sur Sur (€65), was a sweet and balanced white wine with a hint of citrus on the nose, and it was well-paired with the fish on the menu.
On the other hand, for those who appreciate red wine, the Mazzei Zisola Noto Rosso (€69) offered a full-bodied experience with a long finish, characterised by notes of cherry and plum. Beyond these, Amuri boasts an impressive selection of Sicilian wines, making it a perfect destination for enthusiasts of Sicilian viticulture.
The service, led by our gracious hostess Eduarda, was exceptional. Eduarda seamlessly filled in for Luca when he was busy managing the rest of the room. What impressed me most was the attention to detail from all staff members. Cutlery was changed after every course, the glassware and tableware was of the highest quality, and our table was “crumbed” at regular intervals, adding an unexpected touch of refinement to our otherwise informal dining adventure.
As for the starters, they were a tantalising introduction to Sicilian cuisine. The Caponata (€14) was a rich blend of aubergine, tomato, red pepper, and pine nuts- sat on top of an irresistible piece of focaccia (more on that later). The Arancino di Mare (€14), so called in Sicily not arancini, was stuffed with trout and crème fraiche, served with a decadent cheese sauce and a breadcrumb coating that had this reviewer perplexed as to how they had achieved that perfect crunch.
The Ricciola alla Siciliana (€16), however, was the standout. Charred Hamachi (yellowfin tuna) with heirloom tomato and potato rosti. A dish that allowed the chef to flex their skills had absolutely everything; texture, flavour, balance, presentation. The best dish of the night.
As we delved into the mains, we chose to share the Spaghetti Alle Vongole (€27), conjuring the essence of Sicily on our plates. This dish showcased a blend of hand-made squid ink pasta and traditional pasta, bathing in a sauce crafted from fresh Irish clams, garlic, white wine, and a subtle hint of fresh chili, infusing just the right touch of Mediterranean heat.
As for the Halibut (€35), it was another contender for dish of the night, impeccably cooked and accompanied by organic Irish mussels, charred baby gem lettuce, and hazelnuts, creating a symphony of flavours and textures.
The Filetto di Manzo (€39), a perfectly cooked and seasoned fillet steak, left me wanting just a little something extra on the plate. It did come with a salmoriglio sauce and a smoked béarnaise, which added flavour and depth. However, a well-paired vegetable accompaniment could have complemented the dish even further.
Sides? The crispy potatoes (€6) are a revelation. Whilst the fennel and orange (€6) side dish added a bright vibrancy to each diner’s plate.
There was just enough room for one dessert – to be shared by the table. And how could we resist Amuri’s tiramisu- with its viral-friendly presentation inside a coffee Moka pot. This dish is poised to become one of Dublin's must-have desserts very soon.
Tiramisu is a simple thing and often can be as tragic as an Italian opera. But not Amuri’s. This boasts high-quality mascarpone, specialty coffee, fine marsala wine and Modica chocolate to finish. The shared format of this dessert made it a fitting and delightful way to cap the night.
In the end, Amuri delivered not just a meal but an emotional journey through the heart and soul of Sicilian cuisine. It was a reminder that great food, served with love, has the power to transport you to another world. And in that world, Amuri is a love affair you won't want to miss.