As children, Shabtai Moria and Ami Damti grew up as neighbors and friends in Israel. As adults, they are restaurant owners and friends in O'Fallon.
"We've known each other from day one," Moria said.
The duo opened A'mis Italian Restaurant in June of last year in Monticello Plaza in O'Fallon.
Damti moved to New York from Israel in 1975. He moved to St. Louis in 1981. "I had a friend who was getting married so I came here for the wedding," he said. "I met my wife and I'm still here."
Moria followed his friend to the United States in 1981. Both men had a long history of working in restaurants.
In 1988 Damti opened the first A'mis in Rock Hill, where Moria worked as manager. They decided to become partners in opening a second location in O'Fallon.
"O'Fallon was growing like no tomorrow, and we wanted to be part of that growth," Damti said. "We've been very successful. We're glad we came here. We're thinking of expanding in April."
The menu features appetizers, pizza, salads, pasta, steaks, dinner specialties, light items, sandwiches and lunch specials.
"The key to us is everything is made from scratch in our own kitchen," Damti said. "We bake our own bread, make our own pizza sauce and crust, and everything is baked on brick."
House specialties include A'mis Chicken Spedini (charbroiled chicken with mostaccioli noodles over chunky red sauce and flavored spices, served with salad, $14.45), Steak Fixman (16-ounce super sirloin strip topped with mushrooms, onions and green peppers, $23.85) and Chicken Royale (charbroiled chicken breast stuffed with shrimp, crab and mushrooms, topped with special sauce, $15.95).
The restaurant serves five styles of pizza in 11-, 13- and 15-inch sizes: St. Louis (thin crust, square cut, provel and mozzarella cheeses), New York (hand-tossed dough, pie cut, all mozzarella cheese), Chicago (pie-bread type dough topped with natural tomatoes, heavy ingredients and all mozzarella cheese, served in pan), New York Manhattan (19-inch round pie cut, semi-thick dough with special recipe, all mozzarella cheese), and traditional Thin Crust.
Pizza prices range from $8.10 for a small thin crust cheese pizza to $14.95 for the large New York Manhattan.
A'mis offers carryout and delivery ($8 minimum for delivery). There is seating for 35 indoors and 20 on the outside patio. Damti plans to expand in April, adding 40 to 50 seats.
Why an Italian restaurant?
"It's something people want," Damti said. "I've worked in Italian restaurants before and knew the dishes from other restaurants. Why not open something you have experience with?"
Have a taste
A'mis Italian Restaurant
3728 Monticello Plaza
Five styles of Pizza
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday
12-9 p.m. Sunday