In December 2019 I moved back to the Gulf Coast. The first task on my plate? Find a good Italian restaurant, one that made their pasta, sauces, and tiramisu from scratch. I found Amici.
The rustic eatery tucked into 30A Avenue in Inlet Beach, became the scene of many dinners out, sitting at the chef’s counter, bantering with prep cooks, and watching the finesse they exuded as they sliced plump heirloom tomatoes for our requisite Caprese salad. Every movement added another detail to the flavor experience—lemon zested over the tomatoes offered brightness, caper brown butter sauce brought brine and nuttiness to the mushroom ravioli, even the bread had that homemade chew.
Dining at Amici always feels like being wrapped in a comforting hug of neighborhood camaraderie. Fitting since “amici” translates to friends.
Visitors and residents alike, share stories over meals at the communal table, the energy buzzes with diners flitting table-to-table seeking out familiar faces, and the food is what you might get at a neighborhood restaurant in one of the alleys across Italy.
“Our family loves to travel. There’s a street in Windsor, Ontario with nothing but Italian restaurants—George and I frequented it when we were dating and it’s still one of my favorite places. The flavors have never changed. It’s very nostalgic. There’s no rushing; we end up seeing people George grew up with, and that’s the foundation of our restaurants,” said Amy Corchis, co-owner of Amici and Amigos.
For two people transplanted from the North, Michigan (Amy) and Canada (George), that feeling of being surrounded by people you love is important. “We built Amici and Amigos for all the visitors that come to our area, but more importantly, we built them for our local community, for friendship and camaraderie, where locals could come and meet up once a week at the same time or, have their girls’ group gather after tennis, or Bible study groups congregate after their morning session,” she added.
Deep tradition simmers throughout Amici, including the “gravy,” a tomato sauce layered with flavor, served on Sundays. As the Corchis family finalized the menu, a competition emerged. Everybody has their name on a dish at Amici, like Nathan’s Chicken Parmigiana, or Amy’s Meatballs (a personal favorite…so moist, so well-seasoned), but the youngest daughter has been winning since the beginning with her Lily’s Chicken Piccata. “It is hands-down our most popular dish. A lot of things happened around the table for us as a family. We had good memories of dishes, what we liked to eat, places that stuck with us, and we brought those to the restaurant.”
European restaurants’ adherence to vibrant ingredients, sourced daily served as inspiration for the Corchis family. “The freshness of the food in Europe is incredible. People usually get what they need that day. Nothing sits; there’s no waste. We wanted that for our restaurants,” said Amy. It shows in the pillowy housemade ravioli, velvety rounds of homemade cheesecake, and blistered Neopolitan pizzas topped with a bevy of fresh ingredients. I can’t get enough of the Salciccia, a crispy, brick-oven baked crust layered with San Marzano tomato sauce, Cipollini onions that lend a caramelized sweetness, wild mushrooms imparting that earthy scent, and imported Italian sausage, all encased by bubbling mozzarella. A caesar salad topped with homemade croutons and shavings of parmigiana, and a serving of spongy, choco-coffee tiramisu make the perfect supporting actors for a cozy dinner at home. And you don’t have to stop at the wine shop; Amici sells their bottles to-go.
And It doesn’t stop with the food.
“We make our own simple syrups, we sous-vide our own juices…everything’s made fresh whether it’s the food side or the bar side. A lot of prep goes into everything we do before we open the doors every day at 11 o’clock.”
“We have so many team members that have been with us since day one that know our core values, know what we’re about as a business, know what we’re about as a family. They execute that on a daily basis,” Amy added
Opened in 2016, Amici established a core locals fanbase before the pandemic shut down dine-in service in 2020. A robust to-go business is now a fixture at Amici where a designated takeout counter services customers wanting to grab-n-go.
Another addition to accommodate the blossoming restaurant group is the permanent bar in the breezeway between Amici and Amigos. Now customers can order a drink and relax while waiting for their table.
But, some things haven’t changed. It’s still about “friends, family, and full bellies.”
George and Amy started out as high school sweethearts sharing pizza across the Canadian and US border. They grew that relationship into a family that loves to travel and eat. “We moved away from home when we got married, and our friends became our extended family. When we started to have a family of our own, we just held that even closer. Even though our boys are married, we see each other every day. Our daughters, Lily and Alyssa, have hands in the businesses. And our local community is our family away from home,” said Amy.