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Amarena NYC

Christine Drinan, Founder

For a place that is one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, if you live on the Upper East Side, you categorically feel like there’s not a lot of good restaurants. Yes, there are fine dining options, but when you want to eat above a post-college bar, the options are limited. That is, until Amarena. This is the review.

Atmosphere

From the day that Amarena opened, it has been a hot spot of sorts for lower-key Upper East Side dinners. Because after all, even one of the most expensive zip codes in the world, have people who are just like us. As in they are looking for a simple yet good Italian meal. This is what makes the people watching a good Upper East Side scene. In lieu of going on the prowl at Avra or dressing presentably at Bilboquet, Amarena NYC offers a more casual scene, albeit same people.

Of good note as well is the overall decor of Amarena NYC. The restaurant is set on the first two floors of a double wide brownstone. The downstairs is buzzy where the bar dominates the room with about a dozen or so seats. I actually prefer to eat at the bar when we can. Simple wood tables, some booths but good lighting, and lighting as you know is everything. This makes Amarena NYC a good date night spot. The upstairs dining room is minimalist as well but has more tables a deux or friends catching up within their own groups. They didn’t put a lot into the decor over all but it’s pleasant enough and speaks nice neighborhood joint.

Food + Beverage

Solid, solid and more solid. The food and beverage at Amarena NYC are what a neighborhood restaurant should be. You don’t feel like you’re wasting a meal by spending it at Amarena. Pizzas are thin crust, hot and tasty. They seem to like zucchini as much as I do, where it shows up on pizza at times in the flower version. Amarena NYC has the zucchini linguini as well, that not enough restaurants serve in NYC. They also do a nice fried stuffed zucchini flower. Also fried and quite delicious are the arancini, both of which come out in two pieces. So you can’t do too much damage as the portions of the fried food are controlled.

I am normally all about a simple salmon but they don’t have one here. Instead, I opt for the halibut which makes me realize how much I like good halibut too. This dish is served with a sunchoke puree and green salsa verde, which makes for a clean and low carb meal. Overall the menu items are as I mentioned at the beginning – solid.

Service

Amarena understands their place in the food chain (literally) as a local neighborhood restaurant. From the day they opened their doors, that’s what has been reflected in the service. It could be hectic at the host stand, but the team keeps it cool and above all welcoming. No reservation? No problem; they’ll do their very best to squeeze  you in. For those who grab dinner by the bar, the bartenders engage with you as well with friendly banter. This is the kind of place that everybody could know your name should you decide, like many other diners, to make it a regular spot. Once you’re at your table, service runs like clockwork. Food comes out well-timed, drinks are replenished and the team genuinely seems to care that you have a good time.

Overall: 7.6/10

A solid neighborhood restaurant on the Upper East Side that could easily be your standby any night of the week.

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FAQs:

Q: Where is Amarena located?

A: Amarena is located at 151 E 82nd St, New York, NY 10028 on the Upper East Side.

Q: What are Amarena’s hours of operation?

A: Amarena’s hours of operation are as follows:

Tuesday
  • 12–10 PM
Wednesday
  • 12–10 PM
Thursday
  • 12–10 PM
Friday
  • 12–10 PM
Saturday
  • 12–10 PM
Sunday
  • 12–10 PM
Monday
  • 12–10 PM

Q: What kind of food does Amarena serve?

A: Amarena serves Italian food, that trends towards more towards down home cooking and pizzas.

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