One of ABF's favorite restaurants, Armando's, closed not long after the first time he took me there. Another business took over and quickly shuttered, and soon we heard rumors of Armando's return. The restaurant is back with a new look and new menu, but we waited a while after reading bad reviews about service, food, etc. I don't think ABF would have enjoyed having his good memories there sullied by a bad experience. We suddenly decided last night would mark our return, and we headed out to one of our favorite neighborhoods: Brooklyn Heights.
The interior is vastly different-it's clear they're aiming for a younger, hipper crowd. Where the old Armando's was old-school, homestyle Italian, the new version is a bit more muted, upscale, and darker. What is it with restaurants where you can barely read the menu!?!? Can we at least get dimmers at our table so we can read the menu and THEN kick in the mood lighting?
The bread basket was nothing unusual, but the olive oil certainly was. It's gently but firmly infused with garlic, sage, and a few other herbs I couldn't really see in the dimly-lit room, but both of us used the bread to secure every last drop of it. So good!
We started off our meal with a lovely Nero d'Avola--the server described it as a wine that was drinkable on its own and didn't really need food. Sold! It was actually quite lovely: smooth, velvety, fruity without being too fruity. We both really liked it.
And yes, we knew we were going to break the whole 'red with meat, white with fish/cream' rule. We're crazy like that.
I ate a LOT of salad this week, so I aimed for a meatier starter. My appetizer was the dish of polpette, aka mini-meatballs. A set of 3 adorable meatballs came in a dish of red sauce (RED SAUCE!) and a hearty dusting of cheese. These were a little tougher on the outside than I'd normally like, and almost on the edge of too-salty, but I liked them. The red sauce was great, just enough garlic to let you know it's there, not overpoweringly so. I shared one with ABF and then scraped every last bit of sauce off the plate.
ABF ordered the Caesar salad, which came distinctly draped with whole anchovies. Yowsa.
He shared a few bites, like the gentleman he is. This was good, but not great in either of our books. It wasn't garlicky enough for me, and ABF would have liked a lighter hand on the dressing (I didn't mind that so much).
ABF ordered the San Marco pasta, a creamy garlic and Parmesan sauce with scallops, shrimp, and more. This is the dish I would have ordered if I hadn't gotten the fish dish you're about to see....
And here's my yummy dish: baked sole in a lemon-wine sauce, with roasted butternut squash and roasted potatoes. The roasted potatoes were shockingly good--so good that I foisted a few on ABF to save myself from them! The butternut squash was upstaged by the perfectly-sautéed onions, and I think those tiny pieces of squash were a bit too 'cute.' I would have preferred slightly bigger chunks. Still, a delish dish all around.
There was no room left for dessert, and our server told us to just enjoy the rest of the wine and take our time. We did! It was lovely--the place was filling up, but not crazily so, and we spent a good half hour chatting and just relaxing. Our visit there was thoroughly enjoyable, and we're both happy to report that while it's clearly different, Armando's is still worth the trip. But could they add maybe a FEW more lights to the place??? :)
143 Montague St
Brooklyn, NY 11201