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

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.