Cafe Society

First look: An Italian feast at Amerigo

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And while the friends-and-family dinner had it glitches, the food that Chisholm and his staff produced was precisely what you'd want in a neighborhood restaurant: humble, inexpensive (nothing on the small board is more than $15), ample and damn good. Everything from the crisp risotto frito to the braised pork cheeks to the cannoli exposed sublimely harmonized flavors suited to an everyday restaurant.

Chisholm admits that he's still hammering out the kinks -- and he stresses that he won't open to the public until he's certain that Amerigo can puts its money where its mouth is. "We definitely threw ourselves in the fire on Saturday night -- we were in the trenches -- but I want to have a sustainable business, and that means doing it right when we start charging people money. It means doing great food, keeping it affordable, and making sure that our guests are getting what they deserve," he says.

He's shooting to open for lunch on Wednesday, but notes that dinner service might be slightly scaled back if he rolls it out this week. "My goal is to open Wednesday for lunch, and then we'll see about dinner. It may be that we do wine and cocktails and a scaled-back menu for a day or two for dinner before going full steam ahead. It's gotta be done right."

In the meantime, here's an exclusive first glance at Chisholm's dinner from Saturday night.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson