Sick of being in the house, we decided to take a date night tonight.  This is a fairly regular occurrence around these parts and being in the Niagara area, we usually try to find a non-chain restaurant to grace with our presence.  Tonight we decided to try Café Amore on Martindale Road in St. Catharines.

It is kind of hard to find if one does not know where to look.  The signage is fairly unassuming and it’s in the middle of a generic-looking strip mall.  There was no wait at the door though most of the tables (including the one where we were seated) had Reserved signs on them.  The decor is very tasteful (though not quite as quaint as at their other location on Lake Street where we’ve been in the past) and kind of homey on the side where we ate.  Homey in the ‘stereotypically Italian living room’ sort of way.  The other main section is decorated more in the style of an old-country street, or so I assume, having only ever been in the new country.

Our waitress, Pam, was very friendly and a little bit absent-minded.  Amy asked her for a recommendation and this threw her off completely.  All of the entrées come with salad and garlic bread and there are many options.  I picked Chicken Genoese ($14) and Amy selected Garlic Shrimp Pasta ($14 as well, prices approximate).  All the pasta dishes have the option of penne, linguine or whole wheat spaghetti pasta (she chose whole wheat and I went with linguine).

The salads and garlic bread arrived first.  My garden salad was very good.  The dressing put me in mind of a very finely diced bruschetta.  Amy’s caesar had good dressing but the lettuce was wilty at best.  We both really enjoyed the garlic bread though the presentation was a bit odd:  It was served on a plastic cutting board that had pretty clearly been used (one hopes it was used for the cutting of the garlic bread but it is impossible to tell).

The pasta was pretty slow in arriving and when they did, Amy’s was penne.  The waiter took it back and brought out one on whole wheat spaghetti pretty quickly.  The shrimps were so big she had to cut them in half before eating them.  The pesto cream sauce on mine was very good but I found the chicken very dry and not very flavourful.  Pam did a pretty fair job of bringing us refills for our drinks but she was a little over-eager when it came to packing up my leftovers.  Amy was still eating when my extra food was dumped into styrofoam right there at the table.

One of the things we would like to do at some point is stay at a restaurant for dessert.  Café Amore is one of several restaurants in St. Catharines that have their desserts on display but we’ve never made it through a meal with enough space left over for that to even be an option.  I enjoyed the restaurant tonight from a subjective perspective (atmosphere, friendly service, happy to be out of the house) but more objectively it wasn’t really that good (messed up order, entrée actually not that great).  The Lake Street location has been closed for construction for a very long time and I think we might give it a try if/when it reopens.

everybody’s saying everything is alright

Additional Information (posted Aug 10, 2009):  I drove past the Lake Street location today and my hopes were abruptly sent up and then crashed down.  The under construction sign had been removed, as had the sign asking people to go to the Martindale Road restaurant (hooray! Re-opening!).  Then I noticed the small, red ‘For Sale’ sign in the window.  Crushing disappointment!  Looks as though it’s Martindale or nothing and by nothing I mean one of the other excellent Italian restaurants in St. Catharines.