A plate of rotolo di zucchini at Amici, a new Italian restaurant in Springfield, Missouri
The menu at Amici will change weekly and feature five courses for $60. One option when the restaurant opened was this rotolo di zucchini. (Photo by Juliana Goodwin)

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Catherine and Thor Bersted didn’t have a background in the restaurant industry when they dipped their toe into it, but they have fallen in love with hospitality.

“I love the absolute chaos. The creativity. The staff,” said Catherine.

The two own Lavender Falls Farm and are partners at Aviary by Lavender Falls Cafe. On Thursday, Aug. 31, they opened their newest venture: Amici, an Italian restaurant in the former Tasia location on South Campbell.

Five-course menu will change weekly

The venue features a five-course meal for $60 and the menu will change weekly. Customers are presented with a menu with at least two options per course and they select one from each course.

Standout dishes this week include Tuscan Salmon, a pan-seared salmon filet smothered in a creamy Tuscan sauce on a bed of asparagus, spinach and sundried tomatoes. The moist carrot cake is delectable. You can also opt for the cannoli bowl. This deconstructed dish is rich, served in a chocolate-rimmed pastry bowl, filled with chocolate chip ricotta, mascarpone and cream cheese.

Thor, left, and Catherine Bersted pose for a photo at Amici, their new Italian restaurant
Thor, left, and Catherine Bersted opened Amici, an Italian restaurant in south Springfield, on Aug. 31. Its their third business, along with Lavendar Falls Farm and Aviary. (Photo by Juliana Goodwin)

Interior designed to have ‘al fresco’ feel

There are good Italian restaurants in Springfield, but not on this side of town, said Catherine. Aside from what she calls a “coursing” menu, the ambiance is different at Amici, too. Catherine wanted to create an “al fresco” feel inside. Moss and ferns hang above tables, some dangling from wood panels built by Catherine that give off a pergola vibe. Parts of the windows are covered in moss — the restaurant faces the sun so it’s also a snazzy way to block out light. Catherine designed the interior, painted the walls and hand-built many features.

They started renovations on July 6 and have worked “round the clock ever since,” said Thor. 

“We only took off one day, August 10. We’ve been going crazy,” he said.

The walls are blue slate, the ceiling silver-gray tile panels. Wicker, earth tones and rustic gold accents are scattered throughout the interior.

Interior photo of Amici, an Italian restaurant in south Springfield, showing tables lining a wall and baskets of ferns moss hanging from the ceiling
The interior at Amici is designed to have an “al fresco” feel, with moss and ferns hanging above tables. (Photo by Juliana Goodwin)

Catherine repurposed as many items as possible from Tasia and her other businesses.

The white linen napkins with a blue stripe were repurposed from the Aviary; some of the baskets on the wall are from the farm. Cutting boards from her home act as wall art hanging on a rod.

She scored cutlery and glasses from flea markets. Church pews reclaimed from a church in Wichita line the wall for seating. Thor found those on Facebook marketplace.

The couple said they want this to feel a little bit like grandma’s house: eclectic, comfortable and special.

A Google search of cash crops led to Lavender Falls Farm

The Bersteds had no restaurant experience when they originally entered the industry. He was a commercial pilot who got laid off during the 2008 recession when there was a downturn in the industry. They met at the Springfield-Branson National Airport, where she worked at the time. He decided to join the Springfield police force and was injured in a training accident in 2013.

After surgery, while he was on heavy painkillers, he Googled cash crops and found lavender. With no experience in farming, he ordered hundreds of plants. The couple owns a parcel of land in Clever and transformed it into a thriving agritourism destination.

In late spring and early summer, they opened their picturesque farm to the public and served charcuterie boards, light fare and cocktails. Thousands flocked to their land and it became an Instagram favorite.

The following year, they upped their game and started serving full meals. The farm was always booked for the roughly two months it was open.

A customer sits at the bar at Amici, a new Italian restaurant in south Springfield
All the house wines at Amici are boutique Italian and not something you will find in the grocery store or other local restaurants, co-owner Catherine Bersted said, while the liquors are small batch. (Photo by Juliana Goodwin)

Owning Aviary during pandemic solidified love of hospitality industry

Then, they partnered with the Aviary and became the Aviary by Lavender Falls.

Owning a restaurant during the pandemic solidified Catherine’s love of the industry. When Aviary first reopened with social distancing between tables, she remembers watching customers.

“They would take off their masks and eat and laugh and forget that the world was on fire,” she said. “We were a part of that, we got to feed them.”

A plate of Beef Tagliata at Amici, a new Italian restaurant in south Springfield
This Beef Tagliata was on the menu when Amici opened its doors Aug. 31. The menu at the new Italian restaurant will change weekly. (Photo by Juliana Goodwin)

Bersteds had ‘come to Jesus moment’ before opening Amici

Thor said last fall they sat down and had a long talk about their future, as this wasn’t their original plan.

“It was a come to Jesus moment,” he said. “Were we going to stay in the industry or do something else? If we stayed, we wanted to expand.”

In March, Tasia announced it was closing and the “location was perfect,” Thor said. They both love Italian food, so it seemed a natural fit. They hired Chris Smith to be their executive chef. He’s worked at the Aviary and restaurants such as Char.

They are sourcing from local farmers and focusing on small batches, all the way down to their bar menu. All the house wines are boutique Italian and not something you will find in the grocery store or other local restaurants, Catherine said. The liquors are small batch too.

Customers are meant to linger over their meals, as they would in Italy. Catherine is one of six children, so she jokes and says she knows how to eat fast but Amici was created for people to connect with each other and their food.

There’s also handmade pasta, and when you enter the restaurant you can see it being made through an open space.

Fresh noodles come out of a pasta-making machine at Amici, a new Italian restaurant in south Springfield
Guests at Amici can see pasta being made when they enter the restaurant. (Photo by Juliana Goodwin)

Lounge menu coming soon

In a few weeks, she wants to add a lounge menu so people can pop in for a drink, bruschetta or charcuterie.

Amici means “friends” in Italian, and they want this to be a place where friends gather.

“No one has a better time with you than your friends,” Catherine said.

Find it: Amici, 4728 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield; (417) 299-8236; or visit their website

Amici is open 5-10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. The menu will change weekly. This week there are five courses for $60. Check the website for future menus. Reservations are required. Here is a look at this week’s menu:

Pick one item for each course — $60 per person


Verdura con Salmone: smoked salmon, cucumber, mozzarella

Rotolo di zucchini: grilled zucchini, roasted red bell pepper, ricotta cheese, basil

Served with a complimentary Prosecco


Wedding soup: house-made chicken stock, carrots, onions, celery, zucchini, garlic, spinach, and house meatballs

Caprese Salad: mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic glaze

Grilled Caesar: lightly grilled romaine lettuce, house Caesar dressing, croutons

Il Primo

Spaghetti and Meatball: house-made spaghetti pasta, marinara, and meatballs

Grilled Chicken Alfredo: house-made fettuccine pasta, grilled chicken breast, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, parsley

Shrimp Scampi: house-made angel hair pasta, tail-on shrimp, heavy whipping cream, pesto, garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano

Il Secundo

Tuscan Salmon: house-made Tuscan sauce, pan-seared salmon filet, asparagus, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes

Beef Tagliata: medium rare medallion, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, on a bed of sautéed arugula and grape tomatoes with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Cannoli Bowl: chocolate-rimmed cannoli pastry bowl, filled with chocolate chip ricotta, mascarpone and cream cheese

Carrot Cake: cream cheese frosting, carrots, pecans, vanilla, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, and cinnamon

Juliana Goodwin

Juliana Goodwin is a freelance journalist with experience covering business, travel and tourism, health, food and history. She is a former Food and Travel Columnist for the Springfield News-Leader, a former business reporter for The Joplin Globe, and has written for USA Today and Arkansas Living Magazine, among others. More by Juliana Goodwin