Amaro, new Italian R Street restaurant from the Shady Lady team, opens with style

Ceiling and upper walls at Amaro, the new Italian restaurant
Ceiling and upper walls at Amaro, the new Italian restaurant

Central Sacramento, for all its many new restaurants, is short on mid-range places where one can get an Italian meal. Pizza places proliferate, but there are fewer restaurants that serve pasta as well.

Over the weekend, the new Amaro Bistro & Bar joined 6-month-old OBO’ Italian Table & Bar in helping fill this gap. The long-in-the-works project from the Shady Lady/Sail Inn/B-Side ownership team and Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham is finally up and running at 1100 R St, serving lunch and dinner in a historic, and now hugely stylish, setting.

Amaro offers several pizzas – including cheese, pepperoni, and mushroom with white-truffle oil – along with a pasta selection that includes seafood ravioli and orecchiette with sausage.

The eye-level focus of Amaro, located next to Warehouse Artist Lofts and a few blocks west of Shady Lady on R Street Corridor, is a highly open kitchen with a large pizza oven. Diners get a full view of cooks at work, who at lunchtime on Tuesday included Kevin Ritchie, head chef for the Shady Lady team’s ventures.

But the real visual bounty lay above the heads of staff members and patrons. Beneath a ceiling of decorative tin tiles hang shelves of books whose covers pop in red, and House of Medici-esque paintings of Italian nobles and clergy. There are enough of the skull-capped latter that Amaro, in spots, looks like a living ad for the new HBO show “The Young Pope.” Gorgeous, old-school chandeliers complete the look.

Look for my First Impressions of Amaro in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.