Cafe Amore

10807 106 Ave.


Mon.- Fri: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to 11 p.m.)

Sat. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Closed Sundays

Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns

Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns

Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $30; loaded, $60

You’d think it’d be easy to run a good restaurant. Cook good food, have pleasant servers, charge reasonable prices. Surely the world will beat a path to your door.

Of course it’s not easy at all. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult businesses imaginable – to have consistently excellent food  and service no matter how busy or how empty the restaurant, no matter if the cook just walked out the door in a hissy fit, no matter if hung-over servers don’t  show up.

Café Amore is one of the very few restaurants in this town able to do just that – always have great food, always have pleasant, professional servers, always give excellent value for the dollar.

When the Weekly Dish first reviewed Café Amore  three-and-a-half  years ago, it was a tiny perfect Italian restaurant  off 118 Avenue. Brothers Cristo and Nick Crudo had opened it mainly as a project to keep  their semi-retired dad Giuseppe from being bored out of his tree.

Back then, the food was consistently great, the service exemplary, the prices just fine.

Today, Café Amore is much bigger, in its own building just north of the downtown in a destination location, a block off 109th Street on 106th Avenue.

The food is still consistently great, the service exemplary and the prices just fine.

Which is why customers come back time after time, why Café Amore is consistently busy. Why, even on weekdays, patrons are prepared to wait for tables to come open.

The chicken-rice soup is sublime, hearty and hot with a perfect lemony fragrance.  The calamari is fresh, lightly grilled, in a sauce made from big, ripe, rich tomatoes, bursting with bubbling olive oil and fresh herb flavours, a sauce that makes you want to lick the plate.

We could smell our pastas – linguine with truffle oil, four cheese penne, a chicken curry and a good  ol’ bolognese ground beef and tomato sauce – well before they arrived, hot and rich and succulent. 

There’s way too much of everything and it’s all so delicious – the curry with its coconut and orange, the delicate, understated truffled linguine, the mountain of melted cheese worked into the penne  and finished under the broilers, the simple Bolognese pasta of the day in a rich tomato/ground beef sauce .

The decor is classic old-world Italian – red-checkered table cloths on closely-spaced tables arranged  New York style, a bar to the side, arches everywhere, red brick, wood, physical and emotionally warm. The only other comparable restaurant would be the taverna-style Little Italy Sorrentino’s.

Service is exceptional.  This is a restaurant that hires well, trains well and treats all staff as family. Everybody knows their stuff. Everybody is genuinely friendly and welcoming. Our server was being shadowed by a server-in-training who wouldn’t get her own section until she had at least a week of learning the Café Amore way.

So why Café Amore? How does this restaurant operate at such a high level of professionalism, yet makes it all look so easy?

I think it’s mostly in the genes.  The Crudo brothers and their dad have been restaurateurs all their lives, as was their mother, who sadly passed from cancer about four years ago. It’s what they do and they love it. Anybody marrying into this family knows what they are getting into.  Cristo’s wife Maria now oversees the front end of Café Amore, treating every customer as family - as I imagine the family’s late matriarch used to do.

Life-long restaurateurs have so much intuition and accumulated knowledge. Nothing leaves the kitchen that isn’t up to scratch. There’s always time+ to sit down and visit with long-time customers, to offer a complimentary drink or dessert on special occasions, to give big hugs on departure.

Remarkably, the Crudo family has  been able to open a second restaurant, the fabulous Black Pearl Seafood eatery on 104th Street, with the same standards, without any discernible drop in the quality and magic of Café Amore.

It’s not that hard to be successful in the restaurant business.  Not if you can keep the bar as high as it always is, day in and day out, at Café Amore.

Graham Hicks

780 707 6379