Where friends might graze

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“We were thrilled with the creamy duck pate that wore a wonderful slice of limoncello gel on top. It was bursting with flavour and inspired us to duplicate it at home (wish us luck),” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON as she reports from Civic. 

Photos: Wendy Johnson

WALK into Amici and you are immersed in the deli part of the operation, which is super impressive.

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson.

It’s produce, produce everywhere – gourmet meats hanging on massive shiny hooks, cheeses carefully displayed, antipasti dancing about and stacks and stacks of canned seafood. It’s a visual extravaganza.

Amici (which means “friends” in Italian) is about gathering a gaggle of friends and grazing.

The menu is small by design. Four-hand stretched pizzas ($12 to $14), four sandwiches ($14 to $16), three pates ($18 each), charcuterie and cheese boards featuring quality produce, and cold cuts (various prices).

The creamy duck pate with a slice of limoncello gel on top. Photo: Wendy Johnson

We were thrilled with the creamy duck pate that wore a wonderful slice of limoncello gel on top. It was bursting with flavor and inspired us to duplicate it at home (wish us luck). Pates are made locally but not on site.

We shared charcuterie, including a chocolate espresso prosciutto; cheese, including a lovely blue, and beautiful sourdough. Then we got stuck into the Diavolo pizza, featuring fiordilatte (cheese made in the style of Italian mozzarella), tomato, roasted red peppers, hot salami and black olives. The pizzas are small but not skimpy on ingredients. Ours was a tad burnt around the edges (we encountered a friend dining for the first time who had the same issue).

Charcuterie… including a chocolate espresso prosciutto and cheese, including a lovely blue. Photo: Wendy Johnson

Fascinating is the large range of products from the sea by Cuca including sardines in olive oil, razor clams, mackerel fillets and mussels in pickled sauce ($14 to $24). The Cuca brand is famous for producing high-quality canned seafood for more than 80 years. According to Amici’s menu, all products are harvested, cleaned and packed by hand, using only natural materials, seafood, olive oil and brine.

Wine is available by the glass or buy the bottle from the fridges ($15 corkage). Whites by the glass are $12 to $14 and include Architects of Wine Skinny Riesling and Alba Vega Albarino. Reds are $12 to $18 and include a Skin and Bones Pinot Noir and Hedonist Tempranillo. One challenge is that wines by the glass are mounted on the wall, making it impossible for some diners to see (we snapped the selection on a mobile).

The cocktail list is fun with “no”, “low” or “go” ABV (alcohol by volume). Think Meno Male, Acqua Di Gio, Che Figata and Boh!

The colour scheme is light and breezy – mint greens, pale pinks, light greys. Look up at the ceiling wallpaper (won’t give the secret away). The place is a bit bright at night (for us, anyway). Service was slow and whipping wine glasses away when they’re not empty is a worry.

Amici Wine Bar and Deli, Northbourne Avenue, Melbourne Building, Civic.


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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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