I stopped in at this Rockville Italian restaurant for lunch with a friend. Amici Miei debuted on the Washingtonian's Top 100 list in 2007 at #65, in 2008 it fell to #85, then to #91 in 2009, by 2010 it was off the list. Falling rankings have a lot to do with new restaurants opening, so we decided to try it out despite indications that quality might be declining. We arrived around 1:00 for lunch, and were pretty much the only ones there (the deli next store was packed), so I was a little wary. We ended up having a lovely meal and lovely time, though, so I wonder why this place is not more popular. It is located in a strip mall that is a bit hidden, which might have something to do with it. There is patio seating next to a nice little fountain, but we decided to eat inside. The interior is fairly upscale and nicely designed.
The waiter brought us fresh bread and poured olive oil for us to dip it in. We had to ask for balsamic vinegar, but he brought it immediately. We walked past a wood burning pizza oven on our way to the table which made it hard not to order a Margherita pizza, but I wanted to try more of a variety. I ordered the Piatto Unico, a lunch sampler plate, which consisted of a caprese salad, gnocchi alla Bolognese, meat balls, and panna cotta (they also offer a vegetarian sampler). The caprese was good, but not outstanding. I prefer my Mozarella fresher and softer. The gnocchi were very good - soft and delicate and covered in a rich meat sauce. The meatballs were a little firm for my taste (I like them fluffy), but drowned in a lovely tomato sauce and topped with cheese. The panna cotta was unfortunately covered in a caramel sauce that tasted burnt, rendering it practically inedible. I tried to cut into the center of the custard to try some without the caramel, and what I managed to get was very nice. My friend is a vegan and the waiter was very helpful in suggesting a dish that would fit her diet. She ordered the fusilli all norma - fusilli pasta with roasted eggplant and tomato sauce. It normally comes topped with ricotta, but they left that off for her.
All in all, Amici Miei is an upscale casual restaurant with solid (but not fantastic) Italian food at very reasonable prices.