Restaurant Review: Bar Amis opens with delicious food at The Navy Yard
“Sweet and bitter but not bittersweet” is how my handsome dining companion described Alto, an Amis signature cocktail of prosecco, blood orange bitters, and ginger liqueur. I would say that is also a good representation of our dining experience.
Vetri Family’s Bar Amis is located as the gatehouse at The Navy Yard entrance. Every time I ride through after business hours, it reminds me of being on a high budget movie set. Giants ships of history greeting you as you enter, clean streets, and plenty of green landscaping. A small escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with ample parking.
Formerly, Vetri Family’s Lo Spiedo, the federal style two-story space features an open plan first-floor dining room and bar, with additional dining space on the second floor. The space boasts a sprawling outdoor terrace with seating for 75 offering expansive views of the shipyard and a private dining space that can accommodate up to 25 guests.
When we arrived we waited at the hostess station for the hostess to return from the kitchen. We were then seated on the second floor where we had a lovely and serene view of the shipyard. The private dining space was in full use by a lively group of young business professionals. The dining room in which we were placed had about 15 diners spaced out throughout the industrial space. On the first floor bar there was a large TV and a few casual drinkers and outside on their patio were also a few diners. I was impressed with their outdoor set up as it was raining and guests were able to dine under a pergola without risk.
We were presented a wine and spirits menu as well as a food menu from our waitress. Sadly, she never gave her name. Considering this was an arranged visit, I assumed their would be more of a warm interaction between myself and the staff. Traditionally, a suggestion of a cocktail from the menu or appetizer is a nice way to drum up a little conversation and make for a less cold exchange. Fortunately, my companion is well versed in Vetri and made some lovely suggestions for us. Although a small menu, there is something for everyone.
We ordered fresh calamari and pecorino and honey with toast as appetizers. I was a little thrown off that an Italian restaurant had nachos on the menu and I was half tempted as nachos are my favorite, but I wanted to stick to an all Italian meal. It didn’t take too long for our appetizers to arrive. However, the calamari was luke warm whereas the pecorino was piping hot. I suppose they waited for the pecorino to soften before bringing out the apps, therefore cooling the calamari. As a fan of calamari, it was standard. Decent, crispy, salty. Perfectly fine bar fare. The pecorino with honey on toast was delightful. A nice balance of sweet and salty. Strangely it was served with four pieced of toast, then another four pieces of toast served on another plate. Although portions were on the smaller side, both were filling and we cleaned our plates.
It took quite some time for our main course to arrive. I ordered one of their staple dishes, pork parmesan, and my guest ordered rigatoni bolognese. We elected not to order sides a la carte as we were already gluttonous from our appetizers. The pork parmesan was perfectly cooked. Juicy inside. Crunchy and salty and fried with the right amount of basil and a tad of sauce and mozzarella. An Italian’s dream! My guest enjoyed his rigatoni bolognese and even added chicken to his order. A healthy portion of meat sauce covered each piece of pasta. Again, both plates clean. One thing that stood out, although silly, was the lack of salt and pepper on the table. Perhaps a chef’s choice to not alter the meal? Growing up in an Italian household, I would have loved some “shaker cheese” on top of my pork. Locatelli or romano would have been a nice option.
Although extremely satisfied with our meal, I decided I wanted to go ahead and order desert to have the full experience. No pun intended. There were three desert options: rice pudding, an ice cream sundae, and tiramisu. My friend, at 9pm, ordered a single espresso. I ordered the tiramisu. A few moments later, our waitress returned with the news of having sold their last tiramisu earlier. So I opted to be dessert free. Which truly was a blessing.
I am thankful to Bar Amis for the invitation to visit their charming restaurant. I think as weeks go on they will get their personality together and a good flow. We really thought our server was sweet, but definitely green. A little personality goes a long way in developing a new environment. I like to know the names of my servers because it more personal.
If you are looking for an intimate escape from the city without going far, I suggest giving Bar Amis a shot. Delicious food at a charming locale. It is Vetri after all! Thanks for the invitation and we will be sure to come back again soon to try other items off the menu.
Bar Amis is located at 4503 S. Broad Street in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday, 11am to 9pm, Friday 11am to 10pm and Saturday, 5pm to 10pm. Reservations are not required, but can be made via OpenTable. Walk-ins are welcome. For more information, please call (215) 282-3184, visit http://www.amistrattoria.
Anne Marie holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Kutztown University. She has worked professionally in Philadelphia and Delaware County in stage management, directing, and producing. She is the owner of Nightcap Cabaret, Philadelphia’s philanthropic cabaret company. Over the past 20 years, Anne Marie has worked with Mazeppa Productions, The Walnut Street Theatre, Upper Darby Summer Stage, Encore Entertainment, Rockwell Productions, Media Theater, Players Club of Swarthmore, and Narberth Community Theatre, among others. Anne Marie served as a Barrymore nominator for Theatre Philadelphia for the 16/17 season and currently serves as an adjudicator for Philadelphia Independence Awards.
She is currently Editor-in-chief for Philly Review.
Instagram and Twitter @annemarie0817