Amante’s exquisite cuisine elicits salivation

September 19, 2008

By Tim Pfarr

I grew up in Issaquah, graduated from Skyline High School and now spend about four months a year in town. I thought I knew every restaurant Issaquah had to offer, but I had never heard of Amante until about a week ago.

Issaquah’s Amante restaurant is one of the chain’s 10 locations in the Puget Sound area.

It is located in a cute European-style building on Locust Street (near Safeway), and is fairly well hidden from the heavy traffic cruising down Gilman Boulevard daily. Our server estimated the Issaquah location to be about five years old. (He did admit he was new, however.)

The interior is small and cozy with only a dozen or so tables, but a courtyard also contains a couple more. On a quiet evening, my two friends and I were shown a spot by the window by our friendly server.

The first thing that struck each of us was the extensive menu. Amante offers 17 salads; 30 pizzas; six calzones; 10 “hot oven grinders” (such as turkey or roast beef entrées); nine hot sandwiches; 28 pastas; and 12 desserts. The menu even features a “low-carb” section with six more entrées.

Amante also allows guests to create their own pizzas and calzones by picking and choosing their own ingredients. Sizes for pizzas range from 10 inches to 18 inches.

Entrées range from about $7 to close to $30 (mostly for the extra large pizzas). However, most entrées run between $9 and $15.

The only thing the menu lacked was a drink list, but our server was able to tell us everything we needed to know. They have a wide selection of beer and wine, and they offer both Coke and Pepsi products for soft drinks.

Everything on the menu looked quite delicious, and after coming to terms with the fact we could not possibly eat everything on the menu in one sitting, we made our selections.

I opted for the chicken penne pasta. For $12.95, I received an entrée of grilled chicken, artichoke hearts and garlic, all lathered in pesto sauce. The meal was beyond delicious and quite possibly some of the best Italian cuisine I’ve ever eaten. It went down smooth and hit the spot just right.

My friends ordered the four cheese baked spaghetti and “Spartacus” pizza.

I tried a bite of the spaghetti, which was rich and also very delicious. As somebody with an unhealthy obsession with cheese, I can confidently recommend the dish.

The four cheese baked spaghetti was $13.95 and, like the chicken penne, was a very generous serving.

The Spartacus pizza was olive-oil-based and contained Greek olives, Greek feta cheese, gyro meat, and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

My friend found the pizza to be quite tasty, and he offered me a slice. However, I decided to take his word for it — I had just finished off my entire large meal and was afraid eating more at that point would push me past the point of being pleasantly full.

The 12-inch pizza was $16.95, and he brought much of it home to have for lunch the next day.

Getting our ticket at the end of the evening, our bill was nearly $80. Each of my friends had two beers, which were $5 each and ran the cost up an additional $20. (I opted for the more economical $1.50 Coca-Cola.)

The beer may get costly quickly (it always seems to), but Amante packs quite a punch for the price. The restaurant also delivers, and guests can order food online.

For tasty Italian in Issaquah, look no further.

Reach intern Tim Pfarr at 392-6434 or isspress@isspress.com.

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