The Amerigo You Don’t Know

Amerigo has become a special restaurant to my family. It’s where my (now) husband first introduced me to his parents on his 29th birthday; it’s where he and I celebrated the night he accepted a new job; it’s where we had our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding just ten weeks ago. Italian food and special occasions go together, especially at Amerigo.

Yet somehow, we had missed hearing about their Farm Dinners until recently. Somewhat of a best-kept secret despite being held regularly since 2012, this monthly series allows Chef Steven Robilio the chance to create new dishes – some Italian, some not – showcasing locally-sourced ingredients. The five-course dinner also features drink pairings for each dish, curated by General Manager Jonathan Parsons. And at a reasonable $50++ per person, the bang for your buck is pretty hard to beat.

11885344_1016402758394194_682856166487087319_nEven this non-seafood eater was happy with this summery, cool shrimp ceviche.

The dinners take place the last week of every month and menus are posted in advance. After doing our homework (and drooling over the menu), we quickly made our reservations to attend.

We arrived and settled in with our fellow diners, many of whom seemed to know each other. I quickly put together that not only were most of them frequent guests at the Farm Dinners, but some of the evening’s patrons were also employees of the restaurant! I was so impressed that these men and women chose to spend their night off by attending the event and supporting their own.

Before each course was served, the Chef himself told us what we’d be eating and the inspiration behind it. He drafts a menu about two weeks in advance, then gets in touch with the farmers he wants to highlight to discuss what products he’s interested in. Some adjustments might take place based on the farmer’s suggestions and guidance. General Manager Parsons chooses drink pairings to accompany each course and with that, the menu is finalized.

11260843_1016402895060847_4605217561861808614_nThe cantaloupe gazpacho with chili oil, mint and Bonnie Blue feta cheese was playfully hot and cold

Once Chef Robilio and Parsons welcomed us all, we got the details on the first course, which was inspired by Chef’s recent trip to Michigan. He wrote out the menu lakeside with a beer in one hand and a pen in the other. Inspired by the water, he decided to kick things off with a shrimp ceviche.

Of course the food was fantastic. Some dishes had some really clever twists, such as the pickled, roasted-in-the-pizza-ovens watermelon rind that was incorporated into the ceviche. Some dishes were new to my palate like the cold-yet-hot cantaloupe gazpacho with chili oil and feta. And some dishes, like the red quinoa “arancini” with green romesco sauce and parmesan crisp, were just so good that my husband begged for his neighbor’s leftovers. Yes, really.

11891143_1016403248394145_8909049702284728504_nMy husband and I both were gaga over the red quinoa “arancini” and nutty green romesco sauce

The drink pairings were just as varied and delightful as the food, including a salty margarita, some bubbly prosecco, a red and white wine and, with dessert, Whisper Creek and decaf coffee. I enjoyed the opportunity to try a new variety of white wine: a Grillo, which was a light, floral accompaniment to the rich and cheesy arancini.

The farms that Chef Robilo featured at our meal included new names as well as familiar favorites: Bonnie Blue Farm in Waynesboro, Johnson’s Honey Farm in Goodlettsville, Bear Creek Farm in Thompson Station and Noble Springs Dairy in Franklin all made appearances on the menu. We even got some grits from Old Spencer Mill.

11934979_1016403358394134_3676599302778464157_nBear Creek pork loin over Old Spencer Mill grits made with Noble Springs goat cheese and turnip greens with a red wine cherry demi glace

It was pretty clear by the end of the night why so many of those seated around us had attended a Farm Dinner before: the experience was great! I bookmarked Amerigo’s website the very next day so that I can keep my eye on upcoming Farm Dinner menus and choose another one to attend soon.

If you’re interested in joining me, September’s Farm Dinner menu has been posted and looks equally amazing as the last! Make your reservations now: these dinners, which take place in the restaurant’s intimate private dining spaces, do sell out.

I’m happy to have yet another reason to hold Amerigo close to my heart. If you’re looking for a unique, affordable dining experience you’re sure to enjoy, Amerigo’s Farm Dinner is a can’t miss.

11222078_1016403595060777_5166067673284011363_nGoat’s milk tres leches cake with fresh berries and Johnson’s honey

Photos provided by Amerigo.

Events and catering professional with a writing background. Alabama native with an Auburn soul. Beyoncé enthusiast in a country music world. Make friends with what you are.