Restaurants in Nicosia have adopted the timetabling of London buses – complain for years about the absence of good venues, then without any fanfare, half a dozen appear in the same season. It has now reached the stage where the most recent arrivals have adopted some of the more lofty attitudes of their European confreres: a sartorial inspection before being seated.
Madam, the Italian companion, had booked a table, I arrived before her, claimed it, but obviously caused an eyebrow to rise from the somnolent level. Casually directed to a table by the entrance, I ordered an ouzo; the waiter was unaware of any such beverage, and suggested a Mastica. Not really what I wanted. ‘How about a small Zivania?’ Apparently not – they didn’t have any. It took ten minutes to serve the beer I ordered. Hmm.
The decor and furnishings would grace any similar establishment in London, Paris or Milan; although the cutlery appeared to have escaped from the DOC. My talented grand-daughter agreed and promptly ordered a cocktail.
The menu is divided into three columns on a stiff card. The starters are sufficient to share between two or three, and include Zucchini Fritters with a yogurt aioli; Octopus Carpachio – marinated and sliced paper thin, quite brilliant; Tuna Tataki, Steak Tatare with truffle and Parmesan; two further dishes and three salads, one, a duck breast with Spinach, Pomegranate, Orange and Almonds.
We chose the Zucchini and the Octopus to share between three. White wine by the glass. The chef serves his Zucchini in battered strips and there are enough to accompany any main dishes and have some left over to eat with the dessert. The Octopus is an art-form and it was a shame to disturb it. But we did.
The main menu has some interesting entries: Black Label Burger, Black Angus Beef – both Caledonian – with Somerset cheese, chips and Béarnaise Sauce, from the ‘auld alliance’. A Milanese Chop, but no indication of its pedigree: Ovine, Porcine or Bovine. There is Octopus and Spring Chicken; for myself I select the Pan Seared Grouper, my favourite Mediterranean fish. I know they can grow to man-eating size, but when fresh – two to five kilos – they are perfect. Amaro boasts a special list of beef and chicken dishes that have to be ordered for a minimum of two diners.
The restaurant has a Pizza oven near the kitchen and the customer may order one of five offerings. From our perspective the Pasta has most appeal, particularly when we discovered the chef, Pietro, hailed from the same region of Piedmonte as my companion’s family, and made pasta daily in the traditional style. The granddaughter selected the Linguini with five different marine dwellers, including a tiger prawn, and the companion was tempted by the Tagliolini, which is one of the forms of Tagliatelle, more popular in the northern region. Both agreed that the tagliolini was perfectly made and quite delicious; the Linguini, good, but needed a few more occupants for the price. The Grouper was first rate and untroubled by accompaniments, except for a separate dish of what I believe was a sweet-potato puree, set down without any method of delivering it to the plate.
The sweets are traditional and our Pavlova was excellent.
The food is a match for any similar establishment in the country, and the chef – definitely ‘one of the ones’. I anticipate some dishes involving veal. However, service was maladroit, and given that the owner was present throughout the luncheon period; puzzling. Early days?
The wine list is modest and reasonably priced.
WHERE Amaro, Pindarou 14, Nicosia
CONTACT 22 777270