by Brenda Shoffner

Roasted Brussels sprouts (front) and Amy's Amici 30A Meatballs [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Roasted Brussels sprouts (front) and Amy’s Amici 30A Meatballs [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Amici means “friend” in Italian.

With a motto of “friends, family and full bellies …” Amici 30A Italian Kitchen will become your friend in no time at all.

The food

We decided to skip salad at this meal although the restaurant offers several: Amy’s chop salad, Caesar, caprese and Amici 30A Italian greens.

Instead, we started with two of their small plates as appetizers: Amy’s Amici 30A Meatballs and a chef’s special that night, roasted Brussels sprouts with other vegetables.

The three out-sized meatballs were served with a generous dollop of cheese and some tomato-based sauce. All had good flavor.

The Brussels sprouts burst with flavor also in a generous serving that included a couple of kinds of small tomatoes (yellow and red), mushrooms and other tasty things I couldn’t readily identify but more than readily consumed.

Chicken parmigiana with spinach pesto pasta. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Chicken parmigiana with spinach pesto pasta. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Other small plates offered are bruschetta, mussels marinara, shrimp and creamy polenta, and warm cabbage.

While perusing the menu at Amici 30A, you’ll quickly discover pizza fills a large portion of it.

Traditional pies include cheese, pepperoni, margherita, marinara, farmers market (vegetable), and Amici 30A original, which allows you to create your own unique pie with various toppings.

House specialty pies include pesto, prosciutto de parma, funghi and my choice, barbecue chicken, which came with tomato sauce, chicken, fresh mozzarella and house-made barbecue sauce. It was delicious.

Even though my guest enjoyed one piece in addition to his own entree, I couldn’t finish it all. The two pieces I took home were just as wonderful reheated the next day for lunch.

My guest chose from Amici 30A’s “bigger plates” for his entree, which was chicken parmigiana served with spinach pesto pasta. The crispy chicken breast was topped with mozzarella but instead of being drenched in sauce, the sauce was served in a separate bowl for dipping or pouring to the diner’s taster.

Chocolate chip cannoli at Amici 30A Italian Kitchen. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Chocolate chip cannoli at Amici 30A Italian Kitchen. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
I’d not seen this done before and thought it a clever way of keeping the chicken from getting soggy. Nice touch.

Other bigger plates offered are rigatoni bolognese and Amici 30A’s signature pasta. My guest thought I would ordered that as it is often my practice to try “signature” dishes. I was tempted, for sure, but the barbecue chicken pizza won out.

Amici 30A has several desserts including specials not listed. However, we each chose from the menu on our visit. My guest had the chocolate chip cannoli, and I had the Limoncello marscapone cake.

Both were presented beautifully, and both tasted wonderful. However, we agreed my cake bordered on divine. Our server told us it was their best seller, and for good reason.

We drank iced tea and water with our meals, but Amici offers a full bar and a completely separate menu of cocktails, wines, bottled and draft beers. They also have brewed coffee drinks, hot teas and Coca-Cola products.

The atmosphere

Covered courtyard viewed from back entrance at Amici 30A Italian Kitchen. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Covered courtyard viewed from back entrance at Amici 30A Italian Kitchen. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Amici 30A is an attractive restaurant with multiple dining areas: outside in the open air, outside but under cover, inside but open to the outside, the bar counter and the open-kitchen counter.

It filled up quickly on a Friday evening with large and small parties. The ladies seated beside us seemed to be regulars because the staffers knew them.

With all hard surfaces and music playing in the background, the sound level was a little loud at times, but my guest and I agreed Amici was definitely a fun place to eat.

The service

We were greeted warmly as we approached the restaurant, and our server, Taylor, couldn’t have been nicer or friendlier.

We also received a visit from one of the owners as we dined, wh

Limoncello cake served with whipped cream and fresh fruit at Amici 30A Italian Kitchen. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
Limoncello cake served with whipped cream and fresh fruit at Amici 30A Italian Kitchen. [BRENDA SHOFFNER/DAILY NEWS]
o wanted to be sure we were enjoying our experience.

A final taste

Amici 30A Italian Kitchen is a wonderful addition to the dining options in east South Walton County. Note it is on U.S. Highway 98 in the 30 Avenue complex, just west of the intersection with County Road 30A.