The Rapidian

Amore treats local food group to expansive tasting menu

The EatGR group visited Amore Trattoria Italiana and was treated to a wide variety of examples of their award-winning Italian fare.
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EatGR's menu sampling



Antipasto- Coppa, salami, speck and fresh mozzarella with olive oil and truffle salt

Grana Padano cheese (imported from Italy) with Michigan Bee Company honey

Arancini- risotto fritters stuffed with fontina cheese on top of Amore's tomato sauce and topped with spinach alioli

Soup and Salad:

Fennel bulb and parmigiano soup topped with S&S Lamb bacon

Speck and mele salad- mixed greens, Fuji apples, smoked Gorgonzola cheese, speck, house made fig balsamic, Ferris Nut pistachios

Forte salad- Mud Lake Farm arugula, Michigan dried cherries, Dancing Goat Creamery goat cheese, honey mustard dressing made with Michigan Bee Company honey


Fichi e Crudo: House made fig jam (with California figs), smoked Gorgonzola and smoked prosciutto

Patate: Potato pizza with Mud Lake Farms rosemary, housemade sausage and cheese blend


Lasagna all Bolognese

Potato Gnocchi: housemade gnocchi with S&S Lamb's rabbit in a marsala sauce

Pescatore: Mama Mucci's squid ink pasta (made in Canton, Mich.) with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and cod in a white wine, garlic and tomato sauce



Chocolate truffles

Lomonaco cookies

Cioccolacello- housemade chocolate liquor




Tues-Thurs 4-9 p.m.

Fri-Sat 4-10 p.m.

Sun 4-9 p.m.

Closed Monday

Pescatore: Squid pasta with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and cod in a white wine, garlic and tomato sauce

Pescatore: Squid pasta with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and cod in a white wine, garlic and tomato sauce /Russ Taber

EatGr member Shawna Swan passes the patate

EatGr member Shawna Swan passes the patate /Chris Freeman

Arancini: risotto fritters stuffed with fontina cheese on top of Amore's tomato sauce and topped with spinach alioli

Arancini: risotto fritters stuffed with fontina cheese on top of Amore's tomato sauce and topped with spinach alioli /Russ Taber

One day after Amore Trattoria Italiana won the Restaurant of the Year award from the American Culinary Federation of Greater Grand Rapids, 27 members of the EatGR group paid a special visit to this locally-owned Italian restaurant for their monthly meetup. The group was given a special tasting menu, introducing them to a generous variety of the appetizers, salads, pizzas, pastas and desserts available at the restaurant.

"It's no wonder they've won the awards and accolades they've received lately. They serve Italian food unlike anything I've ever eaten anywhere else. From the appetizers to the desserts, each course is exquisite, with flavors that make you to want to take your time and savor every bite," says EatGR member Mark Curtis.

Owners Jenna and Maurizio Arcidiacono pride themselves in preparing from scratch quality Italian foods, and sourcing their ingredients locally whenever possible. 

Jenna Arcidiacono herself is a member of the EatGR group.

"I wanted to create a special night for the Eat GR group because I am a member of the group and wanted to share a little of what I do," says Arcidiacono.

"The night to me," says EatGR member and Dancing Goat Creamery's owner Veronica Simons Phelps, "summed up the Slow Food idea of taking time to enjoy good company and good food - conviviality at its best. We felt the love in [Arcidiacono's] food."

Arcidiacono's restaurant opened in July of 2010. In a short amount of time, they've already won many awards, including Grand Rapids Magazine's Best European Dining Award for 2012 and their Best New Restaurant Dining Award in 2011. They were also the first local restaurant to earn the Snail of Approval from Slow Food West Michigan.

"It's so Italian to shop local everyday- and slow food started in Italy," says Arcidiacono. "There really is no other way! I tapped into local farms in Comstock Park [where our restaurant is located] and have been spreading the word about how awesome they are. The area around the restaurant is almost all farm land and the fruit trees are around the corner."

Arcidiacono says local Michigan farms inspired her Italian menu.

"I introduced myself and talked to the farmers about what they grew and molded my menu based on what Italians would eat with these items," she says. "People initially thought I was crazy- 'Where's the spaghetti and meatballs?'- which is an American dish. I never saw a meatball in Italy in the three years I lived there. So I learned to stick with my dream and hopefully, people who have visited Italy would appreciate it. I wanted to have a casual trattoria where the food was homemade and portions were good- just like at home in Italia in Maurizio's mom's kitchen."

Her menu now follows local seasons for many of their offerings.

"Obviously my favorite time of year is coming up," says Arcidiacono. "It starts with aspargus season [with asparagus from Krupps Farm]. Then it's blueberry season and I make local blueberry tiramisu. Dunneback Farms has strawberries that I use next - then Under the Pines market is right up the street... Veronica from Dancing Goat delivers cheese, Mud Lake Farm is hydroponic and delivers to me year round as well as Pierre from S and S Lamb. Farm Country truffle cheese and Cowslip Creamery cheese are on my menu, too- Earthkeeper Farm in Kent City is certified organic and Rachelle from there delivers once a week during season - and I could go on forever!"

"For me this experience was a parade of firsts," says Rina Sahay, EatGR member, "first taste of prosecco, [Gran Padano] with honey, squid ink pasta, arancini - all of truly excellent quality. Hats off to EatGR for this gourmet opportunity."

EatGR currently has 842 members on Facebook. Along with their monthly meetups at various locally-owned restaurants, the group shares photos and information from their food discoveries around the area. Many of the conversations center around out-of-the-way restaurants or little-known resources. 

Chris Freeman, founder of EatGR, says the group isn't just for foodies. 

"I started EatGR because my job as a realtor was taking me all over the city and I was ending up in neighborhoods where there were small eateries or places that had 'non-traditional' cuisine that I was passing by everyday and didn't know that they even existed," says Freeman. "I realized that these places were frequently better than the chain restaurants."

"I then gave thought to the fact that there were probably a lot of people out there who might be interested in knowing about some of these eateries," he says, "so I started taking pictures and posting them. The purpose is to expose the people in the group to the many various locally owned and unique eateries out there that they might otherwise not be aware of. I want people to feel more comfortable taking a chance on an unfamiliar restaurant by providing a little familiarity through photos," says Freeman.

The EatGR group quickly gained in popularity, and Freeman's addition of monthly meetups provides a chance for the online community to meet in person.

"Amore turned out to be a fantastic experience because the owner created a sampling menu for us, so we each got to try 10 or more items that we otherwise would had to have gone there several times to experience. Jenna was an excellent host and really made sure that we got a good feel for what she does," says Freeman.

The next EatGR meetup is scheduled to be at Wei Wei Palace for dim sum on Sunday, April 7 at 10:00 a.m.

Freeman recommends joining the Facebook group to keep updated about future events and share your own discoveries.


Photo essay images courtesy of Russ Taber, Chris Freeman, Timmy Linscott and Veronica Simons Phelps.

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