Amarena opened on February 8th, at 151 East 82nd Street on the Upper East Side, from Chef Julian Medina and restaurateur Louis Skibar, the partners behind Mexican hotspots Toloache and El Fish Marisqueria. Amarena is the pair’s first Italian concept, inspired by Chef Medina’s travels to Italy, specifically Rome.
“I’ve always had a deep appreciation for Italy’s heritage, so opening this restaurant is such an exciting part of my career. Since visiting Italy again last year, I’ve spent countless hours perfecting my favorite dishes. I’ve been enthralled with bringing the region’s rich culinary traditions to my neighborhood in NYC – the Upper East Side – so I’m thrilled to finally have the opportunity to do so,” says Chef Medina in a statement.
Named after the classic Italian cherry, Amarena encapsulates Italy’s vibrancy and timelessness, blending its rustic charm and opulent luxury. The menu is heavily influenced by traditional Roman fare, with Chef Medina’s own creative twists.
For dinner, guests can start with a variety of Suppli — fried rice balls originating in Rome, similar to Arancini — with options like Orso (‘Nduja, burrata, mozzarella), and Polpo (bucatini, octopus, bone marrow, Calabrian chili, grana padano). Antipasti dishes are also available, like Carciofi alla Giudea (baby crispy artichokes served with Calabrian chili-meyer lemon aioli); Polipo, grilled octopus with insalata Olivye and crispy mortadella, served alongside salsa verde; and Vongole al Forno (Baked Clams) with salsa verde, lardo, and spiced breadcrumbs.
Pizzas include options such as the Tartufata topped with truffle burrata, pecorino Toscano, parmigiano, and fresh black truffles; the Soppressata Picante with peaches and Calabrian chili honey; and the Amarena with mortadella, whipped burrata-pistachio crema, gorgonzola dolce, and arugula. These can be enjoyed alongside a variety of pasta dishes, like the Capellini alla Nerano with zucchini, gold bar squash, zucchini blossom, and provolone; Carbonara Anatra with bucatini, duck guanciale, duck egg, and pecorino; and the Everyday Sunday Gravy with pappardelle, Brunello- and coffee- braised beef cheeks, slow cooked tomato sauce and parmesan. Other entrees from the menu’s Secondi section include the Vitelo Alla Milanese, served with a poached egg, grana padano, and black truffle sauce; Aragosta, a whole lobster served with agrodolce butter alongside ‘Nduja risotto; and Porchetta Agrodolce with tomato, olive, and teardrop pepper agrodolce and lettuce cups. Cantorni (side dishes) include Patata (smashed gold marble potatoes with gremolata, compound butter and crispy prosciutto) and Carotine (glazed baby carrots in Calabrian chili butter with gorgonzola dolce and Sicilian almonds).
Dinner can be enjoyed with beer, Italian wine, or signature cocktails including the Positano (Cesarini Sforza Trento Brut, Limoncello, Meyer lemon and thyme), Carleone (Great Jones Bourbon, Amaro Ciociaro, and Crème De Cacao), or Casa Julian (El Tesoro Blanco, Campari, Faccia Bruto, lemon juice, ginger syrup, and cucumber).
Sweet options from the menu’s Dolci section include Amarena (Amarena cherry layered cake with coconut meringue), Torta Al Limone (Meyer lemon olive oil-pastachio cake with limoncello frosting), and Panna Cotta Alle Fragole (buttermilk panna cotta with yuzu-macerated strawberries and fragola ice cream). Lavazza coffee and tea are both available, as well as a variety of Vino Liquoroso.
Breakfast and lunch will be available shortly after Amarena opens. For breakfast, guests can enjoy a variety of pastries such as Sfogliatella with pistachio cream filling, Bamboloni and Maritozzo. Savory options are also available, including Pizza Bianca con Uovo, thin crust pizza with a poached egg, truffle sauce, burrata, and Parmigiano; Frittata with zucchini, gold bar squash, Grana Padano, and cherry tomatoes, served alongside roasted potatoes and a green salad’ and a variety of Paninos. Lavazza Italian coffees and freshly pressed juices are also available both in house and for take-out.
Designed by Pablo Castellanos of Bruccolino Studios, the 3,600 square foot Amarena spans two floors. The 60-seat restaurant celebrates the duality of Italy’s landscapes and the diverse and rich character of the region. The first floor mirrors the quaint charm of coastal trattorias and countryside eateries, with green hues incorporated throughout in a nod to lush Mediterranean olive groves. The space includes a 12-seat bar and features patterns and decor inspired by Italian summers, including white, green and gold toned Vermont marble. Contrasting this, the second floor pulls in rich and luxurious reds, to tie in the opulent palaces which overlook the Amalfi Coast.
Amarena is located at 151 East 82nd Street, between Third and Lexington Avenues, in Manhattan. Amarena will first open with dinner service, open from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm Sunday through Thursday and 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Friday and Saturday. Breakfast and lunch service will launch in the weeks following.