A stab at Italian, Burlington Style


Last night my girlfriend went for a night on the town, and decided to dine at a fairly unknown, nondescript Italian restaurant in Burlington, L’Amante. L’Amante is located on College Street, directly across from Burlington’s newest Vietnamese Restaurant Saigon Bistro (which you all should check out as well; very tasty Duck stew). I’ve walked past L’Amante countless times and have always wondered where the hell this place came from? Every time I get involved in a conversation regarding Italian restaurants in Burlington, I have never once heard L’Amante mentioned. Why does this place not gain any recognition? It’s in a pretty solid location, the ambiance seems very nice, and let’s be honest, Burlington isn’t exactly overwhelmed with favorable Italian restaurants, so why is L’Amante not in the mix? My goal was to answer this question.

I first found out about L’Amante a couple of years back but had never had inkling to step inside its doors until one fateful evening. As I was walking back to my house on a brisk December night, I spotted a former economic professor of mine looking fantastically drunk, waltzing around like Kanye at the MTV Video Music Awards. He was singing for shits sake, in clear sight from the window. I have a great deal of respect for this professor, and once I learned that he is a patron at this potentially fine establishment, I knew that I needed to give it a try.

I made a 6:30 reservation, which at the time seemed a little unnecessary, but in retrospect was a great call (it got very busy as the night went on). We arrived a little early and were ushered to a nice table in the restaurants main dinning room. L’Amante has a very nice ambiance, notwithstanding that it was fairly dark which made it a little hard to read anything. After our server greeted us with our menus we ordered a bottle of Chianti and continued exploring the dinner menu. We were both extremely hungry so deliberating about what to order was a bit of a task. Our server returned with a basket of bread accompanied by chicken liver pate (nice!) and butter. I immediately went to town on the chopped liver and continued to neglect the menu until noticing a prosciutto appetizer and promptly placed an order for it. Despite the fact that I was totally psyched on the liver, what kind of Italian restaurant doesn’t serve olive oil with their bread? Answer that however you will, but L’Amante does not, loosing immediate points with me.

Before I knew it, a massive plate of prosciutto was planted in front of us—good lord. I’m all about prosciutto, but I felt like we had just slain a whole pig. As we were enjoying the deliciously salted slivers of meat, we decided on two entrees to share and ordered them; Potato gnocchi with slow roasted pork, tart cherries, rosemary, and balsamic, and Orange marinated, boneless trout. There’s just something about gnocchi and slow roasted pork that captivates me. Last time we ate at another one of Burlington’s Italian establishments –Trattoria Delia– I ordered practically the same entrée.

Amidst a good conversation about the philosophy of ethics, that’s right, our entrees arrived and we were eager to dive into them. I started on the trout, which simply put, was excellent. Trout is one of my favorite fishes, and this dish was cooked to perfection; a large filet of extremely light, appropriately flakey, and properly marinated fish. Its flavor was not overwhelmingly orangey, nor was it too fishy. It was clear that the catch was very fresh, exactly the way it should be, and exactly the way I expected it to be—great dish.

After devouring about half of the trout we decided to exchange meals. I can’t say I was too happy to give up the fish, but the gnocchi was certainly calling me name. My first impression of the gnocchi was that the pasta itself was a little too mealy. It wasn’t bad by any standard, though compared to what I have had in the past (i.e. Trattoria) it could have been fluffier. Next the slow roasted pork was rather though, not at all what I would expect from “slow roasted pork”. Lastly, the tart cherry sauce was too tart. At first it was nothing to note, but nearing the end of the dish I felt like I was halfway done with a cherry pie—way too sweet, way to sour. I could barely finish the gnocchi, and had I not greatly enjoyed the trout, and stuffed myself with prosciutto, I probably would have been far more irritated.

We finished our wine, continued our conversation, which has now moved onto political philosophy and postmodern thought (I mean we were in semi-formal attire, would you expect anything less?), and paid the bill. The meal was good, not great, but good—solid for Burlington. Three quarters of it was very enjoyable, but the gnocchi could simply not be ignored. The pasta was poorly made, the pork was poorly cooked, and the sauce was entirely too bitter. I’d give the dish a C+ at best, whereas Trattoria gets an easy A (not to mention their version of the dish is served with “braised wild bore”—far more exotic [sic] badass, and thus far more desirable).

I was glad we chose to dine at L’Amante. It was reasonably priced, the menu (for the most part) was very good, it had a very nice atmosphere, and the staff was pleasant. Maybe I was just dealt a bad hand with the gnocchi, but next time we go for Italian in Burlington, Trattoria Delia, not L’Amante, will be the destination.

One Response to “A stab at Italian, Burlington Style”

  1. 1 whats4lunch

    try the stuffed squash blossoms next time — amazing.

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