Amoré Café Melds Traditions in Chef’s First Venture

NORTH LIMA, Ohio – Chef Eric Kilgore describes his culinary approach as an “ode to the rustic, culinary traditions of the Italian countryside, influenced by Sunday dinner with his mother’s family.”

Most of his meals growing up were dishes brought over by his grandmother, and he combined them with recipes he learned at other restaurants as Kilgore developed the menu at his new restaurant, Amoré Café and Italian Kitchen.

“We have a chicken diablo sandwich and you get everything from the char to the spice to the fresh mozzarella, and then we put fried basil on top,” the executive chef and owner said. “We have risotto balls. We make the risotto and then make the balls from there adding greens, cheeses. We bread them and fry them, and everyone has loved them so far.”

Amoré, at 10862 Market St. in North Lima, offers Italian- and American- style breakfasts, and southern Italian cuisines for lunch and dinner. A grand opening was held Aug. 2. 

Although he loves his own charred and campfire-style food with an Italian twist, Kilgore is working alongside Charles Sinclair, the executive pastry chef. Sinclair has been doing pastry work for eight years and has long dabbled with melding flavors. 

“We are currently serving a peanut butter pie and cheesecake with a strawberry topping or brulee,” he said. “In the future, we’re looking forward to having tart cakes and cannolis. We’re experimenting right now with different flavored cannolis like a tiramisu cannoli.” 

A tiramisu cake will also be added to the menu in the coming months as Sinclair experiments with other ideas for Amoré’s dessert menu. He said the importance of keeping staple recipes Kilgore has grew up with within the restaurant will allow customers to get the home-cooked meal feeling. 

“Having those types of flavors where you come in and you feel like your parents made your meal or your grandmother, it’s special,” Sinclair said. “We hope to bring that to every family that walks in here.” 

Among the 16 crew members at the restaurant is general manager Justin Kalinay, who ianticipates upward of 4,000 patrons per week.

When Kalinay came back from Boston, he worked at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts, Mission Taco and Rhine Haus, where he met Kilgore. 

“We got to know each other well and I sent him a list of all of my suggestions for the bar because originally, I was going to be the bar manager, but he said, ‘No, I want you as general manager. You’re super organized, passionate. Let’s do it ,’ ” Kalinay said. 

After years of working in other restaurants, Kilgore is grateful to have one to call his own. Before opening Amoré Café and Italian Kitchen, the 33-year-old Army veteran and Hubbard native has spent his career building toward owning his own business..

“I got into food after I came back from the military,” he said. “I actually went into restaurant management with Bob Evans for a few years and one day I was pouring soup and I was like, ‘I’m making better food at home. I’m outta here.’ ” 

After having his initial apprenticeship with Jorge Carreño, owner of Margherita’s Grille in Girard, Kilgore learned the value of fresh ingredients and cultural recipes. This hooked him on making his career in the kitchen. 

The space Kilgore is using for his restaurant is described as “gritty” and “quirk.” It was previously home to many restaurants, including most recently an western-themed  steakhouse. He’s invested $50,000 in kitchen renovations, landscaping and  keg systems.

“We’ve prepped for a few days getting this ready and we’re excited to show what we think of true, southern Italian food,” Kilgore said. “The space is perfect. If you look around, you see that rustic, Italian feel. It’s got that country setting and that’s what we love.” 

Pictured: Amoré staff include Nicholas Sinclair, executive sous chef, Eric Kilgore, executive chef and owner, Justin Kalinay, general manager, Tianna Pondillo, server and Michele Montmore, server. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.