My grandparents moved to the United States from my grandfather’s hometown of Poviglio, Italy. My grandmother was born and raised in Sicily. So, Italian food played a major role in my upbringing. A lifetime of Sunday dinners and holiday feasts featuring the best homemade Italian dishes imaginable makes it difficult to appreciate Italian restaurants. But then I went to Ambrogio15 at the Biltmore Fashion Park. It is an Italian foodie’s dreams brought to life. 

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“This is a neighborhood known for being luxurious, stylish and discerning, which is exactly what defines the look and feel of Ambrogio15,” says Andrea Burrone, co-owner of Ambrogio15, which is part of the San Diego-based Ambrogio15 Restaurant Group. “A key Italian cultural point that we strongly promote in our restaurants is great respect for the ‘materia prima’ (or the raw ingredient). Together with the desire to develop and give voice to Italian culinary regionalities, particularly Milano, we are constantly pushing ourselves to innovate and redefine the boundaries of what is commonly perceived as Italian cuisine.”

And when it comes to redefining and elevating Italian cuisine, Ambrogio15 meets that goal and surpasses it with a level of deliciousness that is so phenomenal, you have to experience it to appreciate it. Featuring an extensive menu of authentic Italian fare handcrafted by Michelin-Starred Chef Silvio Salmoiraghi of Ristorante Acquerello (Milano) and Executive Chef Fabio Pizzigoni, Ambrogio15 tempts the palate with pastas, Italian-style steaks, seafood, a raw bar serving oysters and crudo and its signature paper-thin pizzas. Ambrogio15 also showcases a globe-straddling selection of boutique natural wines inside a glass-fronted wine tower carved right into the heart of the restaurant, as well as an extensive craft cocktail menu designed by Marco Russo, the mixologist behind Bar 1930 in Milan, which is consistently ranked among the World’s 50 Best Bars.

Ambrogio15 also showcases an extensive list of natural wines handcrafted by the finest small-scale producers across Italy. 

“Developing our concept, we wanted to stand out through our selection of wines,” says co-owner Giacomo Pizzigoni. “For this reason, we brought a new kind of boutique Italian wines to the U.S.: natural, 100% organic, biodynamic wines with unique and unmistakable characteristics. We love to work with winemakers who are passionate about their terroirs, and craft wines that will surprise guests and help them discover new perspectives on this very hands-on and sensorial approach to winemaking.”

But, for me, the food is the star of the show. Menu highlights at Ambrogio15 include lobster paccheri for two ($75), served in a traditional copper pan; a 30-day dry-aged 40-ounce porterhouse steak Fiorentina style ($185); pizza with prosciutto crudo and fresh burrata ($24); scallop sashimi with saffron risotto and Champagne sauce ($35); and while the carbonara ravioli ($29) doesn’t look like the traditional ravioli that Grandma Gossie made, it’s a delicious deviation and perfectly illustrates how Ambrogio15 is redefining and reimagining Italian cuisine.

I guarantee you’ll want to go back to Ambrogio15 for seconds … and thirds.