I use two rules for distinguishing a good Italian restaurant from a tourist trap. The rule in Italy is that the menu should have local dishes from the region (e.g. spaghetti alla carbonara is a good sign in Rome but a bad sign in Bologna, tagliatelle alla bolognese is a good sign in Bologna, but spaghetti alla bolognese is a terrible sign anywhere). The rule outside of Italy is that the people who run the restaurant should be born in Italy, especially the chef. These rules are not foolproof, but in my experience they work very well as a rule of thumb.
Eatmosfera is an Italian restaurant in a small side street of Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam, right in between many tourist traps. A very unlikely location for a good restaurant. But since it meets my rule as it is run by thoroughbred Italians, I gave it a try anyway. I am glad that I did, because Eatmosfera is like a little piece of Italy outside of Italy. The guys that run the restaurant are mostly from Tuscany, and that is also where most of the ingredients are sourced from. Others are from Rome, Sicily and Sardinia. They have only been in the Netherlands for a few years and hardly speak Dutch, so it’s either English or Italian (fine by me).
There are about half a dozen antipasti and half a dozen primi on the menu for about 15 euros, as well as about half a dozen secondi for around 25 euros. And there are pizzas as well, which we will try next time. The menu does not follow my rule of having only dishes from a single region on the menu, which I have never seen outside of Italy. The dishes are clearly Italian, made from Italian ingredients by Italians, but they are not very traditional. They are original creations of the chef instead, so you won’t find tagliatelle alla bolognese or spaghetti alla carbonara here.
We tried two of the antipasti. These bocconcini of burrata wrapped in prosciutto, briefly baked in the oven, were a daily special. A dish like this depends on the good quality of the cheese and the prosciutto, and cooking them just right so that the prosciutto is slightly crispy and the cheese melts without becoming rubbery. And that is exactly how they were cooked. Served with an excellent bit of salad, this was a lovely dish (9/10).
The other antipasto we tried was baked goat cheese with grilled vegetables, honey, and almonds. The goat cheese worked very well with the grilled vegetables, especially the grilled bell pepper. Again good ingredients prepared just right. I would have preferred slightly more of the grilled vegetables, but otherwise this was great (8/10).
As primo piatto I had fresh tagliolini with a seafood sauce. The tagliolini were freshly made and perfectly al dente. The tomato sauce had great flavor with just the right balance between tomato, seafood juices, and a tiny bit of peperoncino. The seafood (clams, scallops, shrimp, and fish) was abundant and cooked just right (9/10).
Kees had the daily special: bucatini with a fresh tomato sauce with smoked pancetta and scamorza (smoked mozzarella). He especially liked the deep flavor of the tomato sauce and just the right amount of smokiness (9/10).
We didn’t have room for secondi, so we went straight to dessert. The homemade tiramisù had great texture with just the right balance between biscuits and mousse and wasn’t too sweet (which is nice). It would have been even better with the addition of a bit of liqueur (like amaretto or marsala). The waiter explained that he wanted to keep it ‘child friendly’, but he said he was going to reconsider adding some alcohol. 8/10
The atmosphere in Eatmosfera is different from what you might expect from an Italian restaurant. The rocky Italian music is quite loud and the decor is modern. It fits the style of the owners. The service is very friendly and knowledgeable about the food and attentive enough for a restaurant of this level.
The wine list has a nice selection of Italian wines of about 25-35 euros per bottle with many of them available by the glass for 4-6 euros. The pinot grigio from Trentino that we had was very nice indeed.
As I already mentioned, Eatmosfera is like a little piece of Italy outside of Italy. The most noticeable differences are that no coperto is charged like in most restaurants in Italy, and that the markup on the wines is more in line with the Netherlands than Italy (unfortunately, but understandably). The quality of the food is above the (already high) average of restaurants in Italy, and one of the best for Italian restaurants in Amsterdam. I rate the food 8.5/10, which is outstanding for a restaurant without stars. The prices are a bit higher than average in Italy, but given the location (think of Rembrandtplein as the Piazza Navona of Amsterdam) very reasonable. Our check for two including that bottle of nice wine was about 100 euros.
As Eatmosfera is only a 10 minute walk from where I work, I will be back often. Next time I will try the pizza.