That’s Amore’

Restaurant serves same Italian dishes it’s known for – just with more dining space and drink options

Story by Emily Sparacino

Photographs by Dawn Harrison

When people arrive at Amoré Ristorante Italiano, owner and executive chef Dino Drakos suggests they be prepared to step back in time – about 60 years – and to leave their worries at the door.

“The idea is you leave the parking lot, you come in here and you come into a different world,” Drakos said.

The ambience of the restaurant is reminiscent of a 1950s Italian eatery in Boston or New York City, with intimate seating, minimal lighting and music from members of the Rat Pack and other greats of the big band era playing softly in the background.

A large painting of Frank Sinatra hangs behind the wine bar.

“Very private, very cozy,” Drakos said of the restaurant, which first opened in 2005.

In 2015, Drakos remodeled his restaurant to enhance the ‘50s feel, adding modern touches to the décor, more seating and a wine bar – something patrons had asked him about many times over the years.

“We had no place to keep people that were waiting somewhere,” Drakos said. “Now we do. People were asking for it.”

Remodeling took Amoré from 29 seats to 83, a much-needed increase based on the restaurant’s growing customer base.

“The expansion was a really necessary thing,” Drakos said.

With the wine bar came an expanded wine list. In addition, specialty drinks crafted in-house – including a lemon drop martini with homemade sour mix and old-fashioned drinks with bourbon and cherries – are popular offerings at Amoré.

At the center of the fine dining experience Drakos aims to create for patrons, however, is the Italian food.

Drakos prides his restaurant on its filet mignon and veal dishes.

“The veal is the best in the city, no doubt about it,” he said. “I love the veal here.”

The Primo Filetto alla Griglia features a 10-ounce prime filet mignon grilled to perfection, with a mushroom, roasted red pepper, wine demi glaze, roasted potatoes and fresh sautéed vegetable of the day.

The Vitello Cotoletta alla Griglia features a 14-ounce veal chop chargrilled to perfection, with a mint pesto cream sauce, roasted potatoes and fresh sautéed vegetable of the day.

All entrees at Amoré are served with complimentary bruschetta appetizers, Italian salad and homemade garlic rolls.

“We make fresh bread every day,” Drakos added. “People think that’s a nice treat.”

Amoré’s signature large meatballs, and all raviolis and pastas, are handmade daily.

Patrons should come to the restaurant with hearty appetites.

“Our meals are full meals,” Drakos said. “You get salad, bread, a starch, a meat, vegetables … lots and lots of food. But that’s the way we do it.”

Wine dinners are held three to four times a year, typically on Mondays in May or June. Patrons can taste wines from different vendors, and pair them with menu items that complement the taste.

The six-course dinners end with dessert.

“Everything is paired with the wine,” Drakos said.

Drakos has been around Italian food since childhood. His family cooked Italian dishes often, and Drakos honed his skills as a chef under his uncle.

His longtime love of Italian cuisine explains the name of his restaurant, Amoré, which means “love” in Italian.

“We put lots and lots of love in this place,” Drakos said. “We’re a specialty place.”

Drakos has worked in the restaurant business for about 45 years, and said his current staff at Amoré exceeds expectations.

“I have probably one of the best staffs I’ve had in 45 years,” he said. “I’ve got some special people working here. I feel very fortunate and honored to have them working here.”

Drakos enjoys building relationships with patrons and seeing their appreciation for what his restaurant offers.

“I enjoy their enjoyment of the restaurant,” Drakos said.

His ongoing goal is to provide excellent service, excellent food and an ambience that sets Amoré apart from other eateries.

The restaurant holds a social hour Tuesday-Saturday, 4:30-6:30 p.m. The restaurant is closed Sunday and Monday.

Amoré also offers catering for various events.

Amoré Ristorante Italiano is located at 5510 U.S. 280, Suite 116.

For more information, call (205) 437-1005, go to LetsAmore.com or visit the restaurant’s social media pages.