The cheap and cheerful Italian in the heart of Aberdeen
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