A couple of Sundays ago, we decided to meet some friends for brunch at Café Amarcord in Beacon, so I called to make a reservation. “We don’t serve brunch,” said the polite woman who answered the phone. Rats! “But we do serve lunch,” she added. So we met our friends for that instead — and what a good lunch it turned out to be. It should have come as no surprise; I’ve heard raves about the place since it opened five years ago (which is about how long I’ve been meaning to check it out… so many restaurants, so little time).
The cafe is a pretty space, festooned with Fellini-movie posters on walls plastered in that glowing Tuscan amber color that makes everyone look good. There’s a long bar you can eat at if you’re not in full dining mode, but we settled in at a table. The pace was leisurely, our server was sweet, and nobody tried to hurry us out when we were done.
Clockwise, from top left: Café Amarcord’s layered beat and goat cheese gateau; pan-roasted mussels; and cotechino sausage with lentils
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Many dishes appear on both the lunch and dinner menus, although they’re slighter cheaper midday (lunchtime mussels are $9; at dinnertime they’re $11, for example). Here’s what we had: a layered beet and goat cheese gateau, topped with crushed walnuts and pomegranate sauce (as tasty as it was pretty); pan-roasted mussels in a garlicky white wine broth with cilantro, tomato and chunks of smoky chorizo; arugula salad with hearts of palm, avocado and shaved parmesan, dressed in a lemony vinaigrette; and rich, succulent slices of cotechino sausage perched on perfectly done lentils in a mustardy dressing. And those were just the starters.
Left to right: rosemary-infused lamb; the bar
Another round of wines by the glass and we were ready for our second courses. Bucatini Amatriciana, the spicy, old-time dish made with pancetta, red onion, red pepper, tomato and a liberal sprinkling of tangy pecorino Romana cheese was pronounced “molto good-o” by my linguistically creative spouse. Also molto good was the pappardelle with black pepper ricotta and dried tomatoes. A skewer of rosemary-infused lamb served on creamy polenta with a sauce of lemon, mint, honey and yogurt was delicioso. (It sometimes comes on couscous studded with raisins and scallions, which sounds even better).
Chef-owner (and Fellini fan) Rifo Murtovic is from Montenegro, and considers his menu New American, but you’ll have noticed from the mentions above that Italian and Mediterranean influences jazz it up. There are also burgers, wraps and paninis, and I’m willing to bet they’re good — but you can have sandwiches anywhere. If you’re in a spot that dishes up real cuisine, why not go for it?