‘Love and passion’ flavor Amore Mio restaurant in Aurora

With love in its name, the new restaurant Amore Mio is a romantic destination for Italian cuisine on West New York Street in downtown Aurora.

Along with a companion piano bar, it’s the brainchild of restaurateur and Executive Chef Roberto Avila, known for his group of farm-to-table Altiro restaurants in Geneva, Wheaton, Aurora and Plainfield.

They are a shared collaboration with his wife, Erika Villanueva, the co-founder who is the interior designer and special events coordinator for each location.

Avila, a former professional soccer player, traded the pitch for another career passion — the role of chef.

Executive chef and owner Roberto Avila and his wife, Erika Villanueva, co-founder, have created the Italian dining destination Amore Mio and its companion piano bar in downtown Aurora, part of their Altiro restaurant group. Courtesy of city of Aurora

Amore Mio, which translates to my love, was a year in the planning, said Avila, who studied Italian cooking in Venice, going on to spend 15 years garnering experience in the kitchens of Italian restaurants.

When it came time to launch his own, he said he began with tapas-inspired Altiro Latin Fusion because of his Mexican heritage, and a desire to gain experience as a restaurateur on familiar turf.

“Now, (it’s) time to open another concept,” Avila said, noting the new project came about naturally.

“I cooked a lot of Italian food with my family, my kids and my wife,” Avila said of his personal entertaining over the years. “Always, I’d make … Italian food — that’s one of those foods I love.”

Now, the patrons at Amore Mio are falling for their own favorites on the menu.

He said people enjoy everything from the pastas to the risotto, Chicken Vesuvio and Linguini Frutti di Mare, with scallops, shrimp, mussels and calamari in a spicy tomato sauce. Another hit is the farm-sourced white fish with garlic asparagus, capers, wine butter sauce and spinach.

“Those recipes are from my mind and my heart — a lot of passion and love,” Avila said of the menu, citing his two watchwords.

He notes he brings his own signature twist to the marinara and Alfredo sauces.

Recently arrived from Italy after a five-month wait is the custom brick oven now producing “New York-style pizza really thin,” he said.

Amore Mio’s eye-catching dining room is on the main floor, and the lower level is home to the piano bar called Red Room on New York.

The concept is for patrons after dinner to head to the lower level for cocktails and enjoy music offered Thursday through Sunday. The music ranges from piano to the addition of voice, saxophone or guitar.

“(It’s) a mix of everything with piano,” Avila said, noting comedy may be another addition. “The piano bar we created like a speakeasy bar New York-style.”

With New York Street just a block north of the Paramount Theatre, Amore Mio also is designed as a destination for the theater crowd. The intention is for diners to enjoy dinner, head to the show and return afterwards.

If you go

What: Amore Mio Italian

Where: 33 W. New York St., downtown Aurora

When: Open for dinner Monday-Thursday; lunch and dinner Friday-Sunday


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