Amaro Bistro, which started to serve diners in late November, celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on Jan.8. The new Italian restaurant is a sibling establishment to Il Bistro, a Seattle mainstay in Pike Place Market that has been delighting diners for 40 years.
“You could see about 90 percent of Il Bistro here when Amaro first opened, with the goal, of course, for it to evolve,” said Nick Wiltz, who owns both restaurants. “And it already has evolved and should continue to do so.” Eat popular Il Bistro items like the lasagna (house-made noodles, ground lamb and veal, imported Italian cheeses and marinara) and the cioppino (Dungeness crab, white prawns, mussels, clams, fish, calamari, bell peppers and roma tomato broth), both of which are Il Bistro originals.
Wiltz, a Bothell resident, said he wouldn’t have considered his home town a promising location for his second restaurant until a few years ago. He got involved with community discussions regarding Bothell’s revitalization efforts, and he was impress with the vision. Wiltz cited the realignment of Route 522 and the city’s creation of nine city blocks of new downtown space as promising factors for Bothell’s development.
“I was able to see the promise and the opportunity and get in on the ground floor. We already have other successful restaurateurs developing (in) or considering Bothell. Amaro Bistro is in the beautiful Six Oaks building. I was interested in developing a restaurant in Bothell for some time, but there were two final pieces that clinched the decision for me: One was that the developers of Six Oaks were very supportive, easy to work with and were fans of our other restaurant, IL Bistro in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The second reason was that the Mcmenamin Brothers decided to renovate the historic art-deco Anderson School and turn it into one of their wonderful hotel, restaurant, bar, live music venue and theater complexes right next door to the Six Oaks building. People who haven’t experienced the businesses of this type that they operate in Oregon are in for a treat,” he said.
The new Bothell hotspot gets its name from amaro, a category of Italian liqueurs with herbal or bitter qualities often ordered as an aperitif or digestif. Amaro Bistro has an interesting specialty cocktail menu utilizing these liqueurs, like the Amaro Bistro negroni (Bulldog gin, Dolin sweet vermouth with Amaro montenegro in a chilled martini glass).
The wine list at Amaro is not vast, but the structure is interesting. It follows what Wiltz describes as a European style. Rather than being able to order only a glass or a full bottle, you have four different sizes from which to choose (glass, .5 liter, .75 liter or 1 liter).
The menu is full of classic Italian favorites. Every time Wiltz dines at Amaro or Il Bistro, he eats the rigatoni Bolognese. Plenty of guests share his favoritism (Wiltz speaks of a close family friend who has dined at Il Bistro for years, and is a now a frequent customer at Amaro, who only orders the lasagna. But restaurant changes its risotto and seafood offerings daily. Amaro also has wood stone fired pizzas, ranging from classic pepperoni to polpette (house-made meatballs) or fungi (wild mushrooms).
Gene Payne, a server at Amaro, recommends diners branch out and try the specials if they’re visiting Amaro for the first time. “Because you can always come back next time and try what’s been on the menu for 40 years,” he said.
18333 Bothell Way N.E., No. 105
Lunch: Monday- Friday, 11am-2pm
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday, 5pm-10pm
Weekend Brunch: 9am-3pm
Daily Happy Hour: 3pm-6pm and 10pm-midnight