LAKEVIEW — A restaurant serving Italian arancini stuffed with flavors from various cultures recently opened in Lakeview.
Amici, 3933 N. Broadway, opened Sept. 2, replacing a Harold’s Chicken Shop. The carryout restaurant serves arancini, deep-fried balls of risotto with a stuffed center, featuring flavors from a variety of cultures, said owner Alfio Sciacca.
Amici offers classic Italian arancini stuffed with meat sauce and prosciutto, as well as rice balls stuffed with Mexican, African, Indian and Thai cuisine.
“A lot of people assume we’re an Italian place, but we’re not,” Sciacca said. “The idea came from Italy because the arancini are from Italy, but we stuff them with different cultures.”
Among the most popular arancini is the Indian masalacino, stuffed with chicken tikka masala, a tomato and cream-based sauce with mild heat and earthy spices, Sciacca said.
Other popular arancini include the jerkicino, stuffed with a mild and smoky jerk chicken, and the Mexican birriacino, filled with beef cooked in birria and served with a tomato consommé.
Everything is made in-house, including the kinds of rice used for the arancini and the sauces, Sciacca said.
“To make an arancino, there’s a huge amount of work,” Sciacca said.
The restaurant menu notes that “our selection will grow to accommodate our customers’ tastes.”
Amici’s name comes from the Italian word for “friends,” Sciacca said. But the word is also used in countries across the world, so it reflects the diversity of the restaurant’s menu.
“We’re trying to put different cuisine into one place, so Amici is the word that expresses exactly what we’re trying to do,” Sciacca said.
Sciacca was inspired to open Amici after growing tired of working in the corporate world and being encouraged to open the restaurant by his children, he said.
Sciacca said opening the restaurant in Lakeview is a “full-circle moment” that brings him back to when he moved to Chicago from Sicily 35 years ago and worked in the neighborhood.
“That was the beginning of my life in this country, and it was beautiful,” he said. “This neighborhood taught me a lot and has the best clientele in the world. I’m so excited to be back here.”
Amici is open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: