You can learn a lot about a place from their chocolate mousse.
On a whim one day last month, I stepped into Amoretti, a café and pastry shop located on Vía Primavera, and ordered a portion of the white and dark chocolate mousse with coconut shavings.
I took a small table on their outdoor terrace, with a view overlooking the street, and awaited my afternoon infusion of chocolate.
The layered mousse was presented in a little mason’s jar, showing an attention to detail I appreciate. Better than the presentation was the silky smooth texture.
I’ve found chocolate mousse to be a hit-or-miss endeavor in Latin America, but the pastry chefs at Amoretti get it right.
And that inspired me to get to know the café, its owners, and their menu more deeply.
What’s In a Name?
The name Amoretti is an old Italian word that signifies small love poems.
The spirit of this word is evident in everything you see and experience at Amoretti, from the casual yet elegant furnishings and interior design, to the menu and presentation of each dish.
Estefanía and Luisa are the two young paisa women behind Amoretti.
In their early 20s, they both traveled to Buenos Aires to become chefs, and it was there in the Argentine capital where they were inspired by the Italian influence to create a café here in Medellín.
When it came time to scout locations, they looked on Vía Primavera, a street one block up from Parque Lleras that runs perpendicular to Calle 10.
Two to three years ago, it was not nearly the trendy place it is today. It was mostly private homes, and a handful of small boutique clothing shops.
They took a chance, approaching the owner of the second and third floors of the building where Amoretti is now located.
There were no “for sale” or “for rent” signs in the window at the time, but their willingness to take a risk paid off when the owner was willing to part with the space.
The upper floors of the building were renovated to create a restaurant, and Amoretti opened its doors in August 2012.
A few weeks ago, I arranged to have lunch on a Friday afternoon. I arrived just before the lunch rush, which offered me the opportunity to watch the entire space fill up with hungry diners.
I ordered a watermelon lemonade (5,500 pesos, $3) to drink. They have over a dozen fruit juices, all made with 100% natural ingredients.
They also offer classic cocktails such as mimosas and bellinis, the perfect accompaniments to weekend brunches.
A glass of the house red, white or rosé wine will set you back 12,000 pesos ($6.50), or you can share a half-pitcher or full pitcher of one of three types of sangria (35,000 pesos, $18.60 and 54,000 pesos, $29 respectively).
My first course was one of their most popular dishes, the tomato soup with mozzarella and bacon, covered by a dome of basil bread (10,500 pesos, $5.60).
The presentation was novel, and the soup itself was served piping hot, with plenty of gooey cheese. Throw in the bacon and it’s no wonder locals love it.
My second course was the beef carpaccio, thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth meat wrapped around cream cheese, topped with basil, and presented with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (16,500 pesos, $8.77).
Other appetizers that caught my eye on the menu include the salmon carpaccio, three types of bruschettas, burrata, brie and camembert. Cheese lovers have no shortage of options at Amoretti.
The third course was a tasting size portion of the lasagna with eggplant, including mozzarella and a fresh tomato sauce (22,500 pesos, $12).
The full size portions of this lasagna, as well as the Bolognese (meat sauce) and salmon options require 25 minutes worth of time to be baked in the oven.
All of the ingredients were clearly fresh, including the pasta made by hand.
My fourth course offered a pleasant surprise.
The ravioli, also hand-made, is stuffed with Serrano ham, feta cheese, and onion marmalade, and topped with fresh tomato sauce and shredded basil (25,000 pesos, $13).
The onion marmalade was sweet, creating a nice balance with the saltier ham. If only all ravioli were so delicately balanced and delicious!
Other notable entrees include a selection of five salads, as well as five risotto, including two seafood options, an artichoke risotto and a classic mushroom risotto with white wine and truffle oil.
If you’re not salivating yet, perhaps dessert will do the trick.
My fifth and final course was as decadent as they get.
Dubbed the “Volcan de Milky Way” it is a Nutella chocolate cake with an arequipe center, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For chocolate lovers, this will be heavenly, and there’s more than enough to share between two people. And at only 10,000 pesos, or $5, it’s a steal. I’ve easily paid three to four times the cost for similar quality desserts in the US and Europe.
Additional dessert options on the standard menu include: yogurt parfait, homemade brownie with ice cream, mini-waffles, chocolate chip or macadamia nut cookies served straight from the oven with ice cream, créme brulee and macaroons.
And if that’s not enough, the chefs rotate a variety of other pastries on a daily basis, which is why I had the chance to try chocolate mousse on my first visit.
Amoretti may have begun as a café, but Estefanía and Luisa quickly discovered their patrons wanted more food options. They smartly began catering to their customers tastes and requests, while keeping the original intent of Amoretti in mind.
The result is a café, pastry shop and Italian-inspired restaurant all under one roof.
My lunch was provided compliments of Amoretti. Special thanks to Estefanía and Luisa for their time.