CLOSED: AMA (Toronto)

At AMA, the operations seem laid back … there’s not a corporate bone in the establish. Sebastian Gallucci, owner of AMA, recalls how he found their sous chef from Kijiji then proceeded to be 20 minutes late for their interview and even ate a bowl of pasta during the entire ordeal. Having gone through the interview process many times, I could just imagine how unsettling it would be to try to answer behavioural questions while watching someone twirl spaghetti.

He also jumped at the opportunity to team up with u-Feast to showcase AMA’s Argentinian cuisine. The $95 + taxes per person meal hooked my friends and I, after all, how can you turn down a 5-course meal with wine pairings? And not just any old pairing, thanks to the Wines of Argentina distributor, we could sample TWELVE, that a few per course! To ensure the post stays to a reasonable length, I’ll just highlight two wines I found particularly notable:

After hearing the 2017 Crios Torrontés ($14.95 at the LCBO) was made by a vintner known as the Queen of Torrontes, Susana Balbo, I knew I had to try the creations from the first wine maker from Argentina. The crisp white wine is made with Torrontés, a grape only found in Argentina, at a winery that’s located at a high altitude. It has a distinctive floral taste as soon as it hits the palette, which will need to be carefully paired with food but works well for sipping.

It’s no surprise that we sampled a host of red wines – a favourite region for me as wines are generally full bodied and reasonably priced. The 2014 Colomé Estate Malbec ($24.95 at the LCBO) is grown in Cafayate, a city 3111m above sea level! A gorgeous deep red hue, the Malbec is rich on the tongue but finishes so smoothly.

In terms of the meal, AMA’s empanadas are held together by some of such thin pastry despite being stuffed with lightly spiced ground beef hit with parmigano for extra flavour. They’re good, the dish’s heaviness dialed down by the chimichurri.

There were some great unexpected additions used in the red snapper ceviche: celery that provided a great crunch that’s different from the typical chip and sweet grapes for balancing out the tart guacamole. Of course, there’s also the customary onion, herbs, and lime, which give the ceviche its signature flavour along with big chunks of the fish. It was all served on top of a tostada for even more crunch, ideal for breaking off into pieces to dip into any stray guacamole.

Sebastian, being from an Italian Argentinian household, even showcased a ricotta gnocchi in the meal. They were the large and pillowy variety, to the point each were almost the size of ping pong balls, and perfect for those who like softer smooth gnocchi. While my preference is for smaller ones that have a bit of bite or a crispy crust, the sugo sauce was delicious - the tomatoes bright creating in a hearty sauce. I only wish there was crusty bread available to clean the plate.

Our main would make any carnivore swoon – a platter filled with two cuts of beef (a juicy ribeye and a leaner skirt steak), chicken, and chorizo. I didn’t try the chicken, but the other items were done perfectly, laced with an aromatic grilled aroma synonymous with Argentinian cuisine. My favourites were the steak, even the leaner skirt steak was so tender, the meat so flavourful. The only faux pas was the abundant globs of chimichurri spooned everywhere – the shear sourness was so overwhelming I had to scrape it off, it’s a condiment best served on the side.

Needless to say, it wasn’t all meat. A vinegary leaf salad and a yummy chunky mashed potato were also served, the starch great for soaking up some of the alcohol.

After having four red pairings with the main, I was in a happy hazy place by the time the assorted Argentinian inspired desserts came around. Truth be told, I remember little about them, only fleeting tastes of chocolate, buttery crust, and of course, dulce de leche.

What once started as a food truck (Che Baby) has morphed into AMA. They describe the vision for their restaurant so beautifully, “AMA - which means Loves in Spanish and Love in Italian - represents the idea that an experience should be more than the sum of its parts. The name AMA is inspired by our love for food, music, and our passion to creating lasting memories for those we love.” After the equivalent of 1.5 bottles of wine, I can feel that love… AMA baby AMA.

Want to check out UFeast for yourself? Sign up with my referral link to get $10 off your first experience.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 930 Queen Street West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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