The outside.

Interior view

Blythe’s Verdict
Amarone comes from the stable of restaurants that features Café Andaluz, Di Maggio’s, as well as Amarone in Glasgow. It has recently opened in renovated premises previously occupied by wine-bar Grape, on the corner of George Street and St Andrew Square.

The distinctive wrap-around shape of the venue remains, but where the previous place was rather dark and forbidding, Amarone’s set up is all lightness and air. The open kitchen, with its chefs in starched whites adds to this feeling, and provides a good welcome as you move through to the main seating area.

MJ felt like it was a place where she might be so bold as to crack out the LBD of an evening. I didn’t feel quite like that (the LBD option doesn’t work with my eyes), but I’m rarely seen in anything other than what would generally be considered formal attire, anyway, so I don’t tend to pay close attention to these kind of things.

For lunch, you have the option of the lunch & pre-dinner, which offers 2 courses for £13.95 or 3 courses for £16.95, or the main menu. We chose from the lunch menu, with MJ selecting steamed mussels followed by pizza (presumably reeled in by the splendour of the open pizza oven, on the way in), while I’ll went for the soup of the day, a tomato-based seafood soup, followed by rigatoni con salsiccia.

The service was friendly and helpful. There seemed to be a lot of staff buzzing around and they seemed well on top of what soon became a busy lunchtime service.

Our starters quickly arrived. My soup was good. It had a good seafood flavour, chunks of prawns hidden in its depths, but could have used just a little more body and perhaps a twist more seasoning. It would have worked very well as a light soup course in a well-mannered dinner, but I would have expected something just a touch more gutsy in this situation. The accompanying bread performed its appointed task most agreeably.

Soup de jour; mmm, I’ll have that.

With the soup duly dispatched, my pasta dish soon arrived. The crumbled Italian sausage, ricotta and tomato came together in a texture rather like mince, with a fragrant flavour and just a whisper of chilli heat. It was reminiscent of something I’d sampled in another George Street Italian, Centotre, and although the overall flavours worked a little better here than in that dish, I think chunkier pieces of sausage might have been a better way to go, texture-wise.


The espresso was good, with a good bit of crunch provided in the form of the biscotti on the side. And with that, another very enjoyable Lunch Quest was concluded.

Overall, I think Amarone represents a good addition to the range of Italian eateries in Edinburgh’s city centre. So far, I think it lacks a Unique Selling Point, but I may discern that from further exposure to the menu. For now, I think it’s a good all-rounder that is likely to please most tastes. How it chooses to define itself to stand out from the crowd, time will tell.

MJ’s Verdict
I have three favorite things about our lunch at Amarone on the posh corner of St. Andrews Square and George Street.

1.     We booked the table via Twitter. Social networking at its best, I’ll say. (except for the time I learned via twitter that I can unplug a keyboard and wash it out with water before letting it dry and using it again)
2.     I learn all sorts of things about the former occupiers of the buildings that we dine in because the most esteemed PDB is a native of these fine lands and can give a foreigner like myself a quick history lesson while we peruse the menus.
3.     The thought of PDB in a black dress and heels. I will now always associate Amarone with that image-and maybe his stripy tie.
On to the food. Well, first, the setting. Having never been to the former pub that occupied this location, I take PDB’s word for it that the total overhaul and refit is a plus. It feels expensive and elegant and the TALL ceilings and large windows and skylights/features make the rooms feel light and airy and absorb all the noise of other diners. Or, maybe it was the Enrique Iglesias cd they had on loop for the first hour we were there that took care of that, either way, it was nice to hear only each other and not the rest of the diners dotted around the two dining areas.
The second thing I noticed about the restaurant was the oven in the middle. I’m not sure all meals are prepared right behind here, where I guess the bar used to be, but the sight of the flames and the stone pizza oven helped me make up my mind on what I would order before I even looked at the menu. The place is huge! We were seated at the far end of the second seating area and were handed both lunch and a la carte menus. I had a quick glance over the main menu, but both of us opted for the 2 course lunch meal.
I ordered the Cozze Bianca Vapore (steaed mussels in a white wine, garlic and parsley sauce) and a pizza verdure mista (which I ordered with no cheese). I told PDB, that one of my personal criteria for authentic pizza places is one that serves marinara on the menu. I know it’s silly, but when I stayed in Italy for a summer, I think I had at least one pizza a day, everywhere from Venice to Milan to Naples and Capri and I associate that plain, basic pizza with the best and freshest ingredients that showcase the simple beauty of an Italian classic. Sorry—I got distracted.
Our starters arrived in good clip and my bowl of mussels was a good sized portion, not overwhelming, but didn’t feel stingy either. It was accompanied by a wee bowl of lemon water and a couple of rounds of bread that were not overly inspiring, but did the job to soak up a bit of the sauce from the mussels. Though, I am proud to say that my forays into bread baking has taught me to recognize how a bread has been proofed and cooked just by looking at it. The mussels were good and very fresh, the sauce was a bit salty, but since I wasn’t drinking it, it was fine to flavour the mussels. 

Mussels in wine and garlic sauce
PDB seemed to be very content with his choice of seafood soup (though blended seafood soup kinda scares me-having come from a chunky-style soup background). Our mains arrived shortly after. My pizza descended like a space ship of red smeared joy onto the table in front of me; it was huge. It had some sliced cherry tomatoes, a few bits of courgette, some yellow and red peppers, and some aubergines. I don’t often go for the pizza option, but I wasn’t disappointed. The sauce was tasty, and the halved tomatoes were sweet. The aubergines were a touch bitter, but that’s something I put down to the availability of produce of that variety here in Edinburgh and not anything to do with the kitchen. The only thing that would have made it a bit better would have been a bit of greenery, some basil or visible herbs just to give it a visual contrast. Regardless, when our waitress asked me if I wanted to take it with me, I jumped at the chance to carry the second half of the pizza out with me. I felt so American.

Pizza verdure mista (sans cheese)

I added this photo just to show size scale

My nifty to go box that went with me to the post office and bank.
Overall, I want to return to Amarone and try the wines and the full dinner menu, while wearing a black dress and heels the über sleek and classy atmosphere seems to want. 

Scores on the Doors

Out of 20 Blythe gives Amarone:
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20

Out of 20 Miriam gives Amarone:
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20

Today’s Lunch Questers were: Miriam, Blythe

We wore: Knee-length riding boots, striped tie brightness.

We ate: Steamed mussels, seafood soup, rigatoni con salsiccia, pizza verdure miste.

We drank: Sparkly water, espresso.

Total Bill: c.£35

Amarone Edinburgh
13 St Andrew Square
Edinburgh, EH2 2BH

Amarone Edinburgh on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Written by TheDudley