Here’s a copy of a restaurant review that will be published in Friday’s Dayton Daily News Go section:
BELLBROOK — Make no mistake: Amelia’s Bistro is an ambitious undertaking.
The new restaurant that took over the spot formerly occupied by Garstka’s Tuscany Grille at 129 W. Franklin St. in Bellbrook serves lunch and dinner six days a week, and breakfast Friday through Sunday; on marathon Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. Breakfast service Tuesday through Thursday was dropped after the first few weeks, but that’s still a demanding schedule for any restaurant, especially a new one with fine-dining aspirations. Amelia’s owner Sharon Bistrek hired Greg Fitzgerald, former chef-owner of the Blue Moon and most recently the executive chef at Madison’s Bistro, as executive chef to help establish a cuisine that Bistrek describes as “gourmet comfort food.”
Fitzgerald has incorporated some favorites from his Blue Moon days into the dinner menu; those and other dishes suggest Amelia’s has the potential to become a destination restaurant — worth the drive to Bellbrook — especially if it shakes off some unevenness and establishes an identity.
From the dinner menu, two appetizers stand out. The Wild Mushroom Cappuccino ($5) does indeed look like a generous and frothy bowl of cappuccino, but dip a spoon past the white porcini foam to find a delightfully thick, rich mushroom soup beneath. It is a generous portion, bargain-priced and worth a special trip — you may find yourself mopping up the remnants with a slice of bread. Pair it with the Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad ($6) for a light, inexpensive, but soul-satisfying meal.
The Crab Raviolis ($9) appetizer is also a winner, consisting of three large raviolis — cooked to a perfect al dente on our visit — stuffed with crab meat and topped with a vanilla lobster sauce.
Among the dinner entrees, the Frenched Pork Chop ($17) is hand-cut and brined, and served with a fig jam that complements the chop’s flavors. And the servers ask diners how they’d like the chop prepared, a welcome trend in cooking pork. A companion ordered it medium rare, and it was served as ordered.
Fitzgerald has resurrected the beef tenderloin dish from the Blue Moon, here simply called The Filet ($25), stuffed with saga blue cheese and green peppercorn sauce, topped with “moon ring” onion rings. And it’s every bit as good as it ever was.
The dinner menu’s most expensive entree, Kobe Sirloin ($29), was a disappointment. Served with caramelized shallots and blue cheese butter and cooked to the ordered medium rare, the meat was nevertheless dry, with little beefy flavor.
Curiously, the menu description for Shrimp and Scallops Absolutely ($21), with the seafood sauteed and served atop lemon-pepper fettuccine in a vodka sauce with spinach and fresh mozzarella, makes no mention of the handful of dried chile peppers that injected the sauce of my dish with noticeable heat. The flavors work, but diners deserve fair warning.
Desserts, all prepared in-house, are built to share, especially the breathtaking “Big-Ass Cake” ($6) — yes, that’s the restaurant’s name for it. It’s a chocolate lover’s fantasy with three layers of dense chocolate cake, studded with chocolate chunks, with chocolate frosting and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Slices are rumored to weigh more than a pound, and they’re not exaggerating. Plan on taking some home even after sharing.
The restaurant has a strong wine list, and some well-selected wines by the glass, including Chateau Sansey, a white Bordeaux from Graves that blends sauvignon blanc and semillion ($7 per glass, $30 per bottle); Razor’s Edge Unoaked Chardonnay from Australia ($7/$29); Castle Rock Pinot Noir ($8/glass) and El Coto Crianza Rioja ($8/$31). Draught beers include Bare Knuckle Stout, Goose Island 312 and Blue Moon, $4 a glass.
Renovations have spruced up the restaurant’s interior. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, although the use of brown grocery-sack-like paper atop black tablecloths seems curiously inconsistent with the rest of Amelia’s decor.
There are encouraging signs at Amelia’s Bistro — especially on the plate.
CONTACT this reporter at (937) 225-2258 or mfisher@DaytonDailyNews.com.
how to go
WHAT: Amelia’s Bistro
WHERE: 129 W. Franklin Street (Ohio 725), Bellbrook (in a small shopping center across from Dot’s Market, just west of downtown Bellbrook)
HOURS: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (limited dinner menu on Sundays)
COST: Dinner entrees range from $14 to $29, with most in the range of $17 to $21.
DISHES TO TRY: Wild Mushroom Cappuccino ($5), Crab Raviolis ($9), Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad ($6), Frenched Pork Chop ($17), The Filet ($25), “Big-Ass Cake” ($6)
MORE INFO: (937) 310-3040 or www.eatatamelias.comTweet