Amare Restaurant Review at the Swan Reserve

The newest hotel around Disney’s Boardwalk area is the Swan Reserve, which opened 3rd November 2021. This 14-story hotel with 349 rooms, nestles amongst the Swan and Dolphin hotels, right next to Disney’s Fantasia golf course. 

Breaking away from the now legendary theming of the Swan and Dolphin, with their impressively large feature-creatures, the Swan Reserve has a more modernist look and feel. This minimalist and elegant style continues into the hotel’s flagship restaurant called ‘Amare’, which means ‘to love’. Will we love this new restaurant?

Albeit the name of this restaurant is Italian, the menu encompasses the wider Mediterranean area, with dishes from Spain through to Turkey and beyond.

The entrance to the restaurant shares a view of the large wine collection with the reception having a minimal desk with the logo casting a relief shadow on the wall. It certainly has an elegant upmarket impression. 

The interior is bright and themed with a cool traditional Greek island Mediterranean teal blue with warmer orange wood tones. This orange and teal look is very calming and a great place to relax in.

This carries forward to the table treatment. The plates would be at home in any Greek taverna.

The kitchen is open to view from the restaurant. Not that we spent much time looking in there. But it was good to see that the kitchen was clean and well presented.

The area where they prepare your drinks was also open to view with a well-stocked bar.

Our waiter Luis sat us at a table near the window with a view of the Swan and Dolphin hotels. I do suffer from tinnitus and hyperacusis and struggle to hear anyone talking in most American restaurants. To the point I will refuse to eat in some places unless they can give me a quiet table. I was glad to ‘hear’ that Amare was indeed a restaurant with a quieter atmosphere with soft music playing. The temperature in the restaurant was comfortable. It is good not being blasted with air conditioning like some restaurants.

We weren’t rushed to order and were offered iced or bottled water.

We were provided with some bread with a dip made from a ring of hummus with olive oil and roasted garlic. The garlic bringing a smoky flavour mixed with the smooth texture and slightly nutty flavour of the hummus.

While perusing the menu I ordered a beer. Phins and Feathers Pale Ale, brewed in Lakeland, FL. A Swan & Dolphin Exclusive Beer ($9). I do like to try out any exclusive offerings while eating out. I would have preferred this to be a draft beer, but it was still good. A lighter pale ale. No bitterness. Some citrus fruits in the taste. I think the waiter must have trained in Germany with that head.

On to the starters. My wife ordered the Polpetti ($17). Tomato Braised Lamb and Beef Meatballs, Crispy Potato Cubes, Saffron Aioli, Roasted Pine Nut Crumble.

The meatballs had a melt in the mouth texture. The sauce was smooth, not tart. The roasted pine nuts added some texture. It was rather large and quite filling though. So, make sure you are hungry!

I ordered the Charred Octopus ($19). Fennel Purée, Pickled Onion, Crispy Potato Shards, Pistachio Gremolata. I have had octopus before in the Med and found it to be a much chewier cousin of calamari. I had heard that the octopus at Amare was different though. It certainly was!

The presentation was excellent. The octopus was light and not at all chewy. Meaty with a mild lobster flavour. Like calamari but a big level up in flavour. The crispy potatoes bring a nice crunch, and the radish adds a dash of pepper to the mix. First rate and a great signature dish for this restaurant. Highly recommended.

We had ordered two glasses of wine to be served with our main course.

It might seem a strange choice of ordering red wine with my fish-based meal, but I don’t really find white wine appealing. I prefer a rich Cabernet-based wine with a lot of tannins. I ordered the Terrazas de los Andes, Altos del Plata, Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina ($14). Usually associated more with a rich steak. But I loved it with my meal. 

My wife ordered the Troublemaker, Red Blend, from the Central Coast of California ($15).  Darker notes on the nose but a little lighter than the Malbec. Not as dry in the back of the throat. Cherry notes in the taste. There is a Shiraz and Zinfandel in the mix.

Now the main courses. My wife had ordered the Grilled Souvlaki ($33). Two Grilled Tender Chicken and Angus Beef Skewers, with Crispy Potatoes, Tabbouleh, Pesto, Harissa Spiced Hummus, and Warm Pita Bread. You can get two of the same skewers if you prefer, but we wanted to try both versions. Meat was very well seasoned. The chicken is not at all dry. Beef is very tender medium rare. The cucumber and onions bring a freshness alongside the meat. The pita is fresh and puffy. The tabbouleh adds some bitter tones. To me the Chicken was better than the beef. It was so juicy. Which is surprising as I am a dedicated steak lover.

I went for the Seabass Al Cartoccio ($44). Two Filets of Sustainable Striped Bass Steamed in a Parchment Paper Pouch with Thyme, Garlic, Wilted Greens, Tomatoes, and Heirloom Potatoes, Finished with a Rich White Wine Sauce.

The pouch is brought to the table sealed, with the waiter doing the honours of opening the steaming parcel before you.

Revealing the contents in a uniquely presented paper package.

I then poured in the sauce. 100% on the presentation. The bass falls apart perfectly and the sauce pairs well bringing a tart lemon zest creamy taste. The veg is well balanced with the fish. My wife had envy in her eyes so we swapped dishes for a while so we could both try them.

The meal was excellent. We hardly felt we needed dessert as it was all so filling. But we pressed on. Not wanting to miss out on the delights they had to offer.

They brought out complimentary Orangecello rather than Limoncello. It was made in Sicily. Tastes like an orange liqueur. Sweet and fruity.

We were then presented with a dessert platter. Amaro Flavoured Sokolatina ($15). Layered Flourless Chocolate Sponge Cake, Dark Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Sauce. Along with Cannoli ($15). Crispy Hand Made Cannoli Shell, Candied Valencia Orange, Imported Ricotta Cheese, Toasted Hazelnut Crumble.

Amaro Flavoured Sokolatina. Light creamy texture. Even the base is light and moist with a dark cocoa cake layer.

Cannoli. Crispy layered pastry outer roll filled with orange cream and ricotta cheese that goes so well with the orangecello. The toasted hazelnuts at each end add a crunch.

The restaurant was a hidden gem among the plethora of restaurants in this area. In all honesty, I preferred Amare to any of the others around that we have eaten in over the many years of visiting. The pricing was extremely competitive for this quality. The service was excellent. Attention when needed but left alone to enjoy the meal without interruption.

Did we end up ‘in love’ with Amare? Yes of course we did. It comes highly recommended by us!