By Anne Raso
Step into L’Amico, and you will feel like you’re in a cozy mountain cabin and industrial downtown loft at the same time! With its two gorgeous copper-clad wood ovens, the kitchen presents a comfortable setting with high-beamed ceilings, pendant lighting, mahogany tables, and cozy booths. And at press time, there are plenty of seating arrangements with heating devices, too.
Having pizza at L’Amico is a must, and I place it on my NYC Top Ten Pizza list. You can get anything from mushrooms and truffles to homemade tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on your pie—and one is big enough to cover two people for lunch or dinner. I tried the no-sauce pizza with truffles and assorted mushrooms, and I dream of going back for another one! And if pasta is more your “ultimate food,” know that it’s made fresh every day with at least a dozen variations.
At the helm of L’Amico is renowned Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel, whose experience is a mixed bag that ranges from cooking in the French Navy to five-star French eateries (and beyond)! He tells New York Lifestyles, “My culinary background is Italian. Growing up, I would help my Italian grandmother with her famous Sunday suppers; however, my culinary education is Classic French. One of the first positions I held was as Chef to the Admiral of the French Navy. I traveled to London where I worked at the famed Gentleman’s Club, Boodles, and worked under notable chefs at Troisgros and Restaurant Ledoyen in France, and Restaurant Mercury at the Hotel InterContinental in Moscow. I decided to plant my Italian roots in New York and, in 2015, opened L’Amico.”
THE SECRET’S IN THE DOUGH
We asked Chef Laurent the most popular menu favorites, and he replied, “Definitely octopus, the Malfadine Vongle, and our pizza, of course! Other than our wood-burning ovens, what makes our pizza so special is the temperature and humidity of the dough during the proofing process.”
Let’s add right here that L’Amico serves many American classic comfort food dishes, including what is arguably the best Marinated Skirt Steak over sautéed escarole. There’s also a killer burger, BBQ meats, and poultry cooked over wood. Desserts are large and shareable, with the warm, soft Apple Tart with homemade gelato and legendary Tiramisu being popular choices.
Of course, with COVID, it’s not been easy for any New York restaurant this past year. But with a creative spirit, they have endured. “We have increased deliveries, which is a big change and something we haven’t done before,” he explained. “We have added temperature checks stations for staff and guests, as well as hand sanitizing stations. We also extended our outdoor patio by building an enclosed seating structure and added heat lamps to them.”
Located in the Eventi Hotel (at 30th Street and Sixth Avenue), L’Amico has a random mixture of clientele. Chef Laurent reveals, “In the past, our clients have been a mix of business- people, locals, and tourists. We would also get many event-goers since we are a stone’s throw away from MSG—show nights were big nights! Now, due to current world events, we are seeing a lot of foot traffic coming in and local neighborhood folks.”
What does Executive Chef Laurent look forward to in the future for his beloved and chic eatery? It’s simple: “I’m looking forward to everything going back to normal after COVID and cooking for our regular clientele. We will be back stronger!”
What dishes are being added at L’Amico for the first quarter of 2021? Executive Chef Laurent says that they are being developed as we go to press, but fans of the eatery should “keep an eye out on our website or Instagram.”
L’Amico is a winner for many reasons, but the most obvious ones are the freshness and authenticity of the cuisine, a friendly and accommodating wait staff, a warm rustic setting with plenty of leg space at your table, and huge portions that can be shared. L’Amico is consistent with quality and portion size and welcomes individuals just wanting to come in and sit at the elegant bar after work as well as families. (Happy Hour is officially 5 to 9 pm every day, and it’s an excellent opportunity to share appetizers like Peekytoe Crab Crostino and highly creative artisanal drinks like the gin-based L’Amico Negroni.) Sunday brunch is a real deal at $12-$23 per entrée.
For more information on L’Amico, visit lamico.nyc