It’s time for a taste of Tuscany by the sea.
Ama Ristorante at Driftwood, Sea Bright, is opening its Ocean Avenue doors at 5 p.m. Friday, starting a tradition of serving fine Italian cuisine in a new oceanfront setting at the cabana club.
Ama, which means love in Latin, is a also a small town in Tuscany — apt reflections of the restaurant’s regional motif and the chef Pat Trama’s passion for the Tuscan food and wines. For the new location, Trama — who has collaborated on the venture with the Driftwood owners and longtime local builders, the Stavola family — has carefully chosen a wine list to perfectly complement the menu.
Calling the list an “an exciting addition to our dining experience,” said Trama, “we tried over 500 wines for Ama’s wine list. For me a wine list is like adding another tantalizing ingredient to our menu, and we chose wines specifically to complement Ama’s menu.”
And, while the menu still features diners’ favorites from the original Ama, there are some new creations of Trama’s that are highlights: fettuccini bolognese with black truffle butter and shaved reggiano; maine sea scallops with chanterelles baby zucchini and local corn; and 16-ounce milk-fed veal chop with white fig marmalade and dolce gorgonzola, among many others.
The new Ama will also feature its old, popular antipasti bar with seasonal favorites: tomatoes and mozzarella and olives.
As with the food, Trama selected some fine wines from a favorite vineyard of his in the Tuscan region of Italy, the Castello Di Ama winery in Chianti, such as the 2011 Chardonnay “Al Poggio” and the 2007 Toscana and Chianti. American wines and champagnes can also be found on the list.
“We are passionate about our food and wines and proud of the beautiful new setting in which we will present them in,” said Trama, who will run the restaurant with general manager Laura Borawski, as in the Atlantic Highlands spot.
In addition to the wine list and seaside setting, the restaurant has a new logo, which is visible on the side of Driftwood from Ocean Avenue — a rooster. Why a rooster? Good fortune. It’s a known Italian symbol of good fortune that has been used as a hallmark of lucky Stavola family ventures over the years.
Trama’s career as a premier chef includes stints at restaurants such as the David Burke Fromagerie, Michelin star-rated River Café, the Myriad Restaurant Group, which includes the New York Times three-star rated Corton, Tribeca Grill and Nobu.
Trama was also executive chef at the renowned Della Femina in East Hampton, New York, where he developed the entire wine list and menu during his time as executive chef there.
For reservations, call 732-530-9760, or visit online at opentable.com. Ama will be open to the public year-round.