A Taste of Heaven: Ambrosia

By definition, Ambrosia is the food of the gods. And so if you find a restaurant by that name, your expectations will be high. Ambrosia does not disappoint.

Located in trendy SoBro on a bustling stretch of College Avenue, Ambrosia is easy to find in the summer time. It’s the place on the east side of street with the lovely, floating, white cantilevered umbrellas and throngs of people happily dining al fresco. Aside from the occasional roaring Harley to muddy the ambiance, it’s as close as we Naptowners might come to feeling as if we were dining in Siena or Rome.

The servers are nattily attired in all black, and they are prompt, professional, courteous and outrageously well versed in both the menu and the wine list. They had better be. Owner Gino Pizzi is never more than two tables away at any given time, so he’s always within earshot. On a recent visit, he literally seemed to fly across the patio to assist a female guest who was picking up the bottle on the table to refill her own wine glass. “That is not your job,” he cooed. “It is mine. Please, allow me.”

To my dining companion’s delight, oysters on the half shell were on the specials list that night. And while oysters are not at the top of my own list, artichokes are, and I devoured an entire plate of Carciofi; grilled baby artichokes with roasted red peppers and balsamic. For dinner that particular night, we shared both the house made Gnocchi, in a velvety gorgonzola cream sauce with shiitake mushrooms, and a lovely Pasta Mare, with abundant morsels of shrimp, mussels, clams and calamari in a marvelous, fresh, herbaceous tomato sauce.

Although the small wine list was rife with Italian wines, we chose a North Coast California– the Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. The fresh citrus notes turned out to be the perfect complement to the rich pasta dishes we selected.

Despite our waiter’s best efforts to get us to try the Tiramisu, we found ourselves too full to indulge, but certainly plan to on our next visit. We were told that the recipe was perfected by Gino’s father over the course of many years. In fact, many generations of Gino’s family, past, present and future, contribute to the success of the place.

The atmosphere at Ambrosia is old school authentic, with black and white family pictures covering much of the wall space, and there’s a wonderful private dining room that can accommodate up to 70 people. If you don’t feel like dining outside, we recommend that you cozy up at the intimate 12-seat bar and grab a bite there.

But no matter where you sit, Gino will find you. And he’ll watch over you like family. Because at Ambrosia, that’s what you’ll be.

5903 N. College Avenue

Dinner: Seven nights a week.