Ok, flat out, in my opinion, Italian food is one of Indy’s weak links. We have a ton of Italian places, but I am always amazed and how similar their menus are (and the food as well). Honestly, it’s a struggle to get me to any of them. My sister and her husband tend to like it more than I do, and it was their birthdays, so we decided to give Ambrosia a try—it’s not new, but I was looking forward to checking out their new space down on College and Kessler.
First of all, their bread is excellent. Excellent and completely addictive. It’s a sliced Italian loaf, served warm and they serve it with very tasty olive oil that is on the table. We had A LOT of it.
The menu there is kind of weirdly organized. There are two sections of antipasti in two different places, with salads and soups in between. I sort of thought maybe it was because one was hot and one was cold, but that is not the case. Also, they have the pastas divided up into two sections as well with no particular theme…so make sure you pay attention to the whole menu.
We started with the artichokes ($10) and the octopus starter ($10). My sister and hubby had the grilled shrimp wrapped in prosciutto ($12). I love artichokes, and you don’t see them too often on menus. These were nice because they were just the hearts and stems, which are the best parts. They were lightly marinated and grilled and served with some roasted red peppers and on top of a balsamic dressing. I would get these again. The octopus was very good as well I thought. I liked the way they served a piece of the tentacles on top of a cooked sliced potatoes, with some arugula, chopped tomatoes and drizzled with a vinaigrette. The octopus was tender and the slices of potatoes gave it a heartier feel. The tomatoes and greens gave it a little zip. Another one I liked. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the shrimp appetizer because I felt the shrimp was tough. My sister and her husband really liked it though, so maybe it was just my shrimp. And the La Quercia prosciutto they use is very tasty.
My sister and I also shared a salad—the “mista” ($7). It was mixed greens with finely diced tomatoes and Gorgonzola with balsamic dressing. The salad tasted good, and even the tomatoes were tasty—not the whitish out of season ones you expect. There was plenty of Gorgonzola and dressing. The problem with this salad was that the greens were really wilty. I am not sure if they were not super fresh or if they maybe sat under a heat lamp for a second or what, but they were too soft. My brother-in-law had a Caesar and hubby had a bite and both said it was good.
Moving on to the entrées, things went a bit south for me. Hubby had the best entrée dish, the tortellini filled with meat, and in a pancetta and Parmesan cream sauce ($17). It was a rich sauce, but the tortellini was fresh and the whole dish had nice slightly salty flavor from the pancetta. I had a special, which was a shrimp dish in a lighter garlic and lemon-type sauce with diced tomatoes. I enjoyed the fresh flavor of the seasonings, but again the shrimp themselves were overcooked. I also thought the potatoes served underneath were tasty. Sliced similarly to the ones with the octopus, but these were seared and were crisp on the edges. I really liked the very crisp ones the best. I substituted the green beans for some spinach, which they did after I asked, and it was good—fresh spinach with just some garlic and quickly sautéed. Parts of the dish were good and the overall flavor wasn’t bad I thought, just the main aspect of the dish (the shrimp) was off.
My sister had the linguine with clams (and some added shrimp) ($16.50 + $5 for shrimp). I don’t know about this one. The one clam I had was sandy and the “white wine butter sauce” with olive oil and garlic wasn’t overly flavorful. This is a pretty simple dish, but this one could have used a bit more to it I think. Maybe I am just jaded because I make this one at home pretty successfully.
We shared a couple of desserts as well—the tartufo ($7) and the cannoli ($6). I liked the cannoli because they did a good job of keeping the shell of the cannoli crust. I didn’t seem like it had been made days early and filled and then frozen. I also enjoyed the slightly less sweet flavor of the ricotta based filling, although it seemed like it was calling out for a drizzle of some semi-sweet chocolate or something to make it just a little sweeter. The tartufo was good as well, and you certainly got your chocolate quotient here. It was chocolate gelato filled with frozen custard and rolled in cocoa. Between the two, it was a nice balance.
Overall, I think the starters (and bread) were really quite good. I could easily make a meal out of first courses, or maybe split an entrée (likely hubby’s pasta) or skip them altogether. The interior is nice (although I never ate inside at the old location so I can’t really compare it) and seems modern and fresh. Our server was very good and helpful, answering several of our questions efficiently. We had drinks and refills when we needed them and our food was brought out with proper pacing. My one piece of advice, skip any of the shrimp dishes.
5903 N. College Ave