As I tasted an array of styles of amari at Sotto and Mozza, I became fascinated. I can see right now, I'm going to have to clear a cupboard for my growing collection.
At Sotto, I was intrigued by Amaro Montenegro made in Bologna since the 1860s. It's very floral, with notes of rosewater, vanilla, citrus peel and, at the end, a pronounced bitterness.
We tasted Amaro Nonino Quintessentia from the grappa producer using a family recipe from 1897, and Amaro Lucano from Matera in the south of Italy, made since 1894 in a more austere style that still includes more than 30 herbs.
Amaro Meletti is one of best deals in amaro and one that really caught my fancy. There's something fresh about it, a lovely complexity and taste of toasted almonds or hazelnuts.
Amaro di S. Maria al Monte from 1892 is so bitter it almost stings your tongue — seriously medicinal but not viscous or syrupy. Still, I don't think I'll be running out to stock that one right away. But who knows, it may be wildly appealing as I get more into amari.
At Osteria Mozza (where I caught Elvis Costello hurrying in as I was leaving), I tried Ramazotti, which includes Curaçao oranges, sweet spices and a bitterness that's almost chewy.
I was fascinated by Amaro Sibilla made with honey from the mountains and herbs dried over a wood fire so they pick up a little smoke. This one had an incredibly long finish.
Braulio is Mozza wine director Taylor Parson's personal favorite right now, from Lombardia. It's Alpine style, which means more forest and herb in its flavors, very complex, and aged in oak.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times