For bountiful Italian options, that’s Amante

January 18, 2011

By David Hayes

Since Amante Pizza and Pasta moved from its old location on Locust Street to its newer digs in downtown Issaquah, we felt it was an opportune time to revisit this Italian eatery.

Those who were fond of Amante’s quaint, Italian villa vibe may be disappointed in the new mix of faux-industrial Tuscan décor.

A dining companion astutely noted the sparse interior could have done with booths lining the walls. And individual lamps extending over the tables would add some much-needed intimacy.

The mix of pop music originating from behind the bar would have been less distracting had it been subtly piped throughout the restaurant.

On a final aesthetic note, the old location had outdoor seating to enjoy your meal in finer weather. Unless the plan is to cram a few tables on the sidewalk out front, outdoor dining will be missed in the downtown location.

But for those on the go, a place to sit to enjoy a quick lunchtime or dinner meal on a busy workday is found here.

Amante has kept its extensive menu to keep you coming back for repeat helpings.

Given a choice from either the lunch or dinner menu, our group selected from both.

Our lone dieter was pleasantly surprised by the portion size of the house salad. The roasted red peppers and feta cheese combined to make this more than the typical tossed salad. You will find myriad combinations in the 11 other salads the menu offers.

Looking to enjoy a staple of Italian dining, one member of our party ordered the old standby of spaghetti with meat sauce. He experienced a surprising blend of seasoning he’d never before enjoyed, leaving him wanting for more. And the large lunch portion left plenty of leftovers for the next day.

The dinner menu’s calzones are almost criminally underpriced, considering the size of the giant hot pocket. The diner could only eat half and said he’d probably pay twice the $12 at any other upscale restaurant.

Amante’s recurring theme of pleasantly surprising combinations was present in their signature calzone, the Amante, which contains onions, black olives, shredded pepperoni and spinach.

Choose a sandwich from a selection of nearly two dozen, all under $10.

I chose the meatball half-sandwich, anchored by toasted French bread. I wish there had been more marinara sauce and more spice in the meatballs — but that’s just a personal preference.

The dinner menu’s full Sicilian Sunset sandwich was good, except for the odd combination of goat and mozzarella cheeses and avocados, proving some out- of-the-box flavor pairings don’t work as well as others.

As for Amante’s pizza, don’t go in expecting the old world, crispy crust. Amante has chosen to feature a more American, softer crust for its pies. Our diner enjoyed his 10-inch lunch portion, slathered in sausage and mushrooms.

A bonus feature to the Issaquah Amante is an area near the front cleared for bands. With so few options for live entertainment in Issaquah, this is a welcome addition. Check Amante’s Facebook page for performance schedules.

If you go

Amante Pizza and Pasta

  • 131 Front St. N.
  • 313-9600
  • www.amantepizzaandpasta.com
  • 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday; 10:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday; noon – 10 p.m. Sunday; and 4-10 p.m. Monday

David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, dhayes@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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