Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a 10-part series on the top 10 Grand Rapids restaurants for 2021. To see a list of all of the restaurants, click here.
What makes a restaurant really stand out isn’t always the food, but how it makes you feel. Is it a place that makes you want to linger over an extra cup of coffee with a special someone? Is it a place you bring your out-of-town friends because “it’s amazing,” you tell them?
For me, that place is Amore Trattoria Italiana, 5080 Alpine Ave. NW. And if it’s your place too — then you know why it’s in our Top 10 Restaurants of the Year list. It’s the staple of date nights, Mother’s Day celebrations and holiday hangouts. Here, the team works hard to make you feel special and appreciated. The ingredients are fresh, in-season and locally sourced — and the menu is especially sensitive to people’s diets and allergies.
“We have always been very sensitive to people’s diets and allergies at Amore, which I believe makes us special,” said chef and owner Jenna Arcidiacono. “I tell my staff that if they had an allergy, they would want to feel heard and taken care of, and not like a burden.”
Cooking through the pandemic
Amore always has remained a popular restaurant in Grand Rapids, but it’s how it has worked through the pandemic that has shown how dedicated to the community the restaurant really is.
And while 2020 was a tough year for everyone, especially the restaurant business, it’s been Arcidiacono’s quick business decisions and the support from her loyal customers that have kept the restaurant cooking.
Amore has been seemingly more active than ever on social media keeping customers updated. From sharing sneak peeks of tasty eats from the kitchen to heartwarming customer stories to menu updates — its Facebook page is the hub for loyal fans looking to snatch up the restaurant’s latest kitchen creation.
“We have had to pivot our whole business, and we literally did it overnight without putting any staff on furlough,” Arcidiacono said when asked about the decision to only offer drive-thru takeout. “We didn’t open inside for many reasons — our goal is to keep staff and guests safe. We didn’t know much about the virus and felt best doing takeout. We also realized that opening at 50% is not worth it. We have to pay 100% of our rent, and I’m not a mathematician, but the numbers don’t look good — especially when any restaurant’s profit margin is already slim before COVID.”
And it’s more than just feeding customers and supporting employees. Amore also has fed more than 10,000 frontline workers and veterans for free. It even received an extra $10,000 from Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor” show during the spring to continue this work.
While many things in 2021 remain uncertain, one thing is for sure: Amore is a strong member of the Grand Rapids community that’s more than just a great restaurant. That incredible Italian dinner does more than just fill your belly — it helps feed frontline workers and veterans and supports an extensive network of local farmers and suppliers across our region.
What an impact a meal can make!
This story can be found in the March 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here.