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  • Courtesy: Alex Origoni

    An artist’s rendering of Amaro Italian Bistro & Bar, which is expected to open in the fall at 11th and R streets.

  • Sacramento

Shady Lady team and Deftones drummer to open Amaro Italian Bistro & Bar

Published: Wednesday, May. 14, 2014 - 7:54 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 15, 2014 - 9:55 am

Downtown’s R Street corridor will soon get a taste of Italian food and drink, via a partnership that includes the owners of Shady Lady Saloon and a Sacramento rock star.

Amaro Italian Bistro & Bar is slated to open this fall at the corner of 11th and R streets, featuring a menu that includes 11 pasta dishes and eight pizzas. The setting is the historic Rochdale Building, which was vacant for a decade before being conceived as a mixed-use project by developers Bay Miry and Ali Youssefi. The 4,000-square-foot Amaro will occupy the ground floor of the three-story building at 1100 R Street.

The ownership team behind Shady Lady – Jason Boggs, Alex Origoni and Garrett Van Vleck – was recruited to occupy the restaurant space. They expanded their partnership to include Abe Cunningham, drummer for Sacramento’s Deftones.

Kevin Ritchie, the executive chef for Shady Lady and its affiliated restaurants, will oversee Amaro’s food program. The preliminary menu includes such Italian staples as fettuccine Alfredo and housemade lasagna, plus a line of Neapolitan-style pizzas. The bar will emphasize Italian spirits including amaro, the herbal after-dinner digestif for which the restaurant is named. The owners are aiming for accessible pricing, such as $10-$12 for pizza and pasta entrees for $12.

“Instead of reinventing the wheel, we wanted to take the absolute classics and show what made them so famous in the first place,” said Origoni. “We’re not going to be pretentious about stuff. It’ll be a casual atmosphere.”

Amaro is part of an overall redevelopment project for R Street between 11th and 12th streets. Amaro is adjacent to the Warehouse Artist Lofts, a $41 million mixed-use building that’s expected to bring 200 residents to the block. That project is overseen by CFY Development Inc., in which Youssefi serves as vice president.

Miry’s family-owned company, D&S Development, serves as the landlord for the Shady Lady Saloon at 14th and R streets. He and Youssefi are overseeing the Rochdale Building project separately from their primary companies.

“R Street has a lot of exciting historic character, and the area is going through a renaissance,” said Miry. “There’s a lot of exciting restaurants and nightlife on the corridor already, and this project will add to that.”

The team behind Shady Lady has been in expansion mode recently. The trio opened Fieldhouse American Sports Pub in March, at the site of the former Mandango’s Bar & Grill in Arden Arcade, and are co-owners of midtown’s LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar. The group also took over as co-owners of West Sacramento’s Sail Inn, which will re-open as Sail Inn Grotto & Bar in mid-summer.

Amaro marks Cunningham’s entry into restaurant ownership, but the rocker is familiar with the business. Before touring globally as a drummer for Deftones, the multi-million-record-selling hard rock band formed in Sacramento, Cunningham cooked at such former Sacramento restaurants as Pescado’s and Mum’s Vegetarian Restaurant. His mother was a restaurant owner in Mendocino.

“I grew up in the restaurant business and always wanted to be part of something in this town,” said Cunningham. “I love what they do (at Shady Lady), and they’re young cats who are coming up. This is our town, and it’s a great opportunity to build from within.”

Construction is bustling at both the Warehouse Artist Lofts and the Rochdale Building. Both projects are intended to debut simultaneously in late fall. For Amaro, the to-do list includes installing a high-end oven, which can cook more than two dozen 12-inch pizzas simultaneously, and a patio seating area that will wrap around the building.

“We’re excited about this neighborhood that’s popping out of nowhere,” said Boggs.

Call The Bee’s Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

Read more articles by Chris Macias

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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