The cheap and cheer­ful Ital­ian in the heart of Aberdeen

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - LET’S PARTY - By Gareth Alexan­der

SET-PRICE menus tend to make me con­cerned. You look them up and down, think­ing “will this be enough to fill me?” and “how can they pos­si­bly make this so cheap?” Given the op­tion, I’ll have the a la carte ev­ery time. But when your girl­friend and her par­ents all like the look of a lunch menu – in Mi Amore, £7.95 for two cour­ses – you have to go with the flow. Say­ing that, I was quite sur­prised with just how ex­ten­sive the lunch menu was, al­beit as tra­di­tional and safe as the checked table­cloths and rus­tic decor. Be­fore we’d even or­dered, bread and olives were brought to the ta­ble – a good sign that they didn’t skimp on the lit­tle things. And when our starters came, we weren’t dis­ap­pointed. My chicken liver pate was the smoothest and light­est I’d had in a long time, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the deep iron rich­ness, truly tasty. A clearly home­made mine­strone soup also went down a treat. My girl­friend’s mum had the br­uschetta po­modoro, or tomato and basil br­uschetta to most peo­ple, which she felt was a bit heavy on the gar­lic. My girl­friend found her cala­mari fritti – with 1970s-style Marierose sauce – in­cred­i­bly ten­der, lightly bat­tered and cooked for just the right length of time to avoid the rub­ber-sole ef­fect it’s all too easy to achieve. All of the mi­nor neg­a­tive points were cer­tainly out­weighed by the sheer value of it all. The gen­er­ous starter por­tion sizes seemed more like some­thing you’d get at din­ner for full price. The mains were also rather good ex­am­ples of com­pe­tent Ital­ian cook­ing – and gen­er­ous Ital­ian por­tions. My penne alla pi­cante, slightly over­cooked penne in a cream and chilli sauce with pep­per­oni and mush­rooms, worked very well. Spikes of heat nicely cut through the creamy sauce even if the pep­per­oni was a bit of a let-down, since it was billed as

the more in­trigu­ing “spicy Ital­ian sausage” on the menu. More pep­per­oni came on a pizza, along­side olives and ca­pers. On the menu, there was a “choose your own top­pings” op­tion, in which you could pick three from a de­cent-size list. The only com­plaint was that rather than a thin, crispy base, this pizza was much more deep-pan, al­most foc­ca­cia-like in tex­ture. This wasn’t bad in and of it­self, but when topped with too much cheese, it be­came slightly soggy. My girl­friend’s spaghetti alla car­bonara was im­pres­sive, with a fan­tas­tic amount of ba­con adding a smoky depth to the sauce, which was so creamy she sus­pected they had ac­tu­ally used cream. But this was in no way a bad thing. Her fa­ther’s can­nel­loni al Florentina, pasta baked with ri­cotta cheese and spinach got the thumbs up, even if this por­tion seemed slightly smaller. With its ex­cel­lent value, good cook­ing and laid-back at­mos­phere, Mi Amore cer­tainly got me over my fear of set menus. Which gives me a good ex­cuse to go back and ex­pe­ri­ence the a la carte ...

CAP: Pic­tured is Carly Massie with one of the

FAM­ILY FEAST: Debra, Calum, Chris and Paul Clark en­joy their meal. WEL­COME: Cheer­ful staff mem­bers Justina Szczesna, owner Has­san Adrif, Carly Massie and Alex Gor­czyn­ska.

VALUE: Dob­bies of­fers good food at a de­cent price. New Park Farm, White Myres, Lang Stra­cht

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