Rule No One Hospitality Group Announces Ambitious New Project at Hilldale

Rule No One Hospitality is pleased to announce the inauguration of their new restaurant, Amara, located in the former Pasqual’s space, at 670 N Midvale Blvd. Madison, WI 53705.

Amara’s name derives from the Ancient Greek ‘Amáranthos’, which means ‘everlasting flower’. Amore in Italian, Amará in Spanish, and Amara in Arabic all refer to love. Yet, Amara in Italian means bitter, conjuring some of the hallmarks of Italian cooking and drinking, where herbs, bitter greens, and digestivi are celebrated for their health benefits and healing botanical qualities. Bitter and sweet are often found together, and at the same time, and couldn't be more relevant to us now as we move forward with purpose and intention seeking balance, healing, health, sustainability, and love.

Amara is our take on contemporary coastal Italian cuisine featuring sharable small plates and bites, hand-crafted pastas, and entrées showcasing the bounty of Madison, Wisconsin. Our wine list features cutting edge Italian and Italian-inspired artisan wines farmed by hand and made with classical methods. Our bar showcases the art of Italian drinking including aperitifs, negronis, cocktails, and espresso. It all comes together to match our decor – light, beautiful, clean, relaxed, simple, energetic, and revitalizing…

The 5,100 SF restaurant is set to open this summer for dinner and lunch 7 days a week, with brunch specials featuring farmers and producers from the Hilldale Farmers Market. The restaurant will feature an open-air environment designed by Distillery Design and OPN Architects, and built by Supreme Structures Inc.


Amara is concepted and managed by Rule No. One Hospitality Group (RNO), which is comprised of the owners, designers, and program directors for our award-winning restaurants and bars such as Downtown hotspots Merchant and Lucille.


The Amara team represents the next generation of talent at the top in their respective fields with strong Madison roots.


Jon Nodler, RNO Culinary Director, curated Amara’s Coastal Italian-inspired cuisine with dishes such as:


Seared tuna with veal lardons, fingerling potatoes, capers and herbed tonnato sauce


Eggplant caponata with, blistered peppers, basil, chili crunch and grilled sourdough


Mafaldine cacio e pepe with lemon confit, peppercorns and pecorino


Slow roasted porchetta with roasted cabbage, pickled peppers and charcuterie sauce


Olive oil & cocoa torta with raspberries, cocoa nib streusel


Jon recently moved back to Madison as one of Madison’s most esteemed alumni becoming a James Beard nominated Semi-Finalist and a nationally recognized chef at some of the finest restaurants in the country. Jon got his start in professional kitchens here in Madison working at Merchant and The Madison Club and left Madison to work in and lead the kitchens of Fork, High Street on Market, a. kitchen + bar in Philadelphia, and High Street On Hudson in New York City. Jon and his wife, Samantha Kincaid, opened Cadence in 2018 and as chef/owner earned Food & Wine Magazine’s “#1 Best New Restaurant” in 2019.


James Juedes, RNO Wine Director and Director of Hospitality, also spent considerable time outside of Madison honing his knowledge and expertise in wine and hospitality. James completed his certificate coursework in viticulture and enology through UC-Davis while living in Spain. He went on to work vintages in Oregon and New Zealand, and travel to nearly twenty wine regions across seven countries. Upon returning home he accepted a position as sommelier and cellar manager at Tory Miller's James Beard award winning L'Etoile. Eventually, he jointly opened Casetta Kitchen and Counter, a small Italian American deli which has become an industry staple beloved for its from scratch ingredients, freshly baked bread, and sliced-to-order meats.


Caity Nicholson, RNO Beverage Director, has created a cocktail program at Amara with an herbaceous set of low alcohol spritzes, bittersweet negronis, and savory martinis showcasing the classical Italian repertoire. Amara will offer Madison’s largest collection of amari and digestivi.


Caity currently oversees the programming and development of both Merchant and Lucille’s cocktail programs since 2020 as RNO Beverage Director, after working as a critical member of both Lucille and Merchant's lead bartending teams since 2014. Her leadership has carried a new generation of bartenders with a focus not only on knowledge and technical training, but instilling a deep culture fostering respect, kindness and sustainability.


Operational partners in the project include Jillian Weingart, General Manager of Amara, Tara Goldberg, RNO Director of Operations, Tim Williams, RNO Executive Director of Finance and Operations, and Joshua Berkson, President, RNO Hospitality.


Jillian Weingart, formerly the Food and Beverage Manager at the Graduate Hotel since 2020 and General Manager and Maitre d’ of L'Etoile from 2018-2020, outlines Amara’s commitment to the industry looking ahead. “Restaurants have so much to do coming out of the pandemic to look forward and build strong foundations to do what we do. Our focus is to collectively lay down pathways at Amara for our industry professionals to work at a company that champions humility, collaboration, respect, inclusivity, and equity across departments.”


Tara Goldberg, RNO Director of Operations adds, “In addition to great benefits, we are implementing policies and programs that invest in our staff with best-of training and growth opportunities.”


Amara offers competitive wages with a comprehensive benefits package including health insurance and 401k contributions. Amara is an equal opportunity employer, with a mission to support women, Black, LGBTQ+ applicants. As an organization, we support a minimum wage of $16/hour.


Media Contacts:


Joshua Berkson

President, Rule No. One Hospitality, Inc., josh@rulenoone.com, (646) 221-4022


Jon Nodler

Culinary Director, Rule No. One Hospitality, Inc., jon@rulenoone.com


James Juedes

Wine Director and Director of Hospitality, Rule No One Hospitality, Inc., james@rulenoone.com


Caitlyn Nicholson

Beverage Director, Rule No. One Hospitality, Inc., caitlyn@rulenoone.com


Jillian Weingart

General Manager, Amara, jillian@amaramadison.com


Tara Goldberg

Director of Operations, Rule No. One Hospitality, Inc., tara@rulenoone.com,


Tim Williams

Director of Finance and Operations,Rule No. One Hospitality, Inc., timw@rulenoone.com


Ana Bazan

Director of Marketing, Rule No. One Hospitality, Inc., ana@rulenoone.com


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