Steakhouse row has been in Troy, Michigan for years. And now downtown Detroit is the culinary epicenter of the area.
But in Southfield, Bacco Ristorante has been quietly making high quality Italian food away from the hustle and bustle of the city for quite some time.
I somewhat embarrassingly hadn’t been there in over a decade. Though, to be honest there was a very specific reason for that. During our last dining experience, though we had not lingered over dinner at all, we were hurried along toward the end of our meal and then asked to leave. This had not happened to me before, nor has it happened since.
The manager that made that request offered to have us move to the bar, but then realized there was no space. He has since moved on and it was time to give Bacco another chance, since I don’t believe the behavior of that man represents the restaurant nor the chef at the epicenter of it, Luciano DelSignore (who also owns the Bigalora restaurants and will soon open Pernoi – I am SO EXCITED for that one!)
I can’t be positive but I would say the restaurant has undergone renovations since our last visit. The tile floor and white table cloth covered tables make the space super elegant. After being warmly welcomed by maître d Agata, who is frankly reason enough to return to the restaurant, as was our friendly and knowledgeable waiter John.
I’d say the food in general was just as good if not better than I remember. They have a menu of seasonal specials, always nice to see at a restaurant (though it’s changing so fast apparently, the soup was listed incorrectly).
We began with the special salad with peaches, beets, and endive, the burrata salad, the vegetable and farro soup, the brussels sprout salad (a favorite from my last visit, though it is now presented much more elegantly), and a very generous taste of the carrot ginger soup.
I must say there were no complaints about any of the first course. It was bright and fresh and fantastic. I think my favorite might have been the carrot ginger soup. Vegan and gluten free, it really allowed the ingredients to shine naturally.
Save for an order of the ravioli to be shared, we skipped a pasta course and went straight for the entrée. Said ravioli was perfectly cooked and best shared since it was loaded with rich raclette cheese.
The veal saltimbocca wasn’t what the gentleman who ordered it would call traditional but he also really liked it. It’s always nice to put a spin on a classic recipe. The chicken picatta arrived perfectly cooked with super crispy skin on a bed of seasonal vegetables.
Copper River sockeye salmon was another hit with seasonal vegetables, though it always makes me sad when the skin is removed from such a beautiful fish. Good chefs should know how to prepare crispy skin-on salmon without flinching.
The only real disappointment of the meal was the Bistecca, a 60 day dry aged Wagyu NY strip steak. It came with nice accompaniments – crispy potatoes, blistered banana peppers, and chanterelle mushrooms, but the main star was pretty severely overcooked. Based on the grey looks of it, I’d also guess it wasn’t properly rested. This is the fourth steak in the area in recently memory that was overcooked. It’s a bummer and has helped me understand why Prime + Proper errs on the undercooked side – it’s so much easier to throw a steak back on the grill instead of starting from scratch.
Mom and I were splitting the steak, so she ate most of it, not caring as much about the doneness. To be honest, I didn’t mention it while I was there because that’s sometimes a difficult conversation to have and I didn’t really want to wait for a new steak.
Dessert brought with it more tasty goodness in the form of little doughnuts, profiteroles (these were better between the two), and sorbet. I remember the sorbet being mind blowing and both the coconut and mixed berry lived up to my memory.
I would definitely go back to Bacco, and not wait ten years to do it. In large part that is because of Agata and John, showing the importance of restaurants not only having great food but also great people to enrich the experience.
We headed up to Ferndale and The Oakland for some after dinner cocktails. Though service was a bit slow, the moody, sophisticated interior and outstanding cocktails would definitely bring me back. The Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Buzzsaw, and Rhubarbara Walters were huge hits (and what awesome names)! Definitely worth checking out The Oakland as it is so difficult to find great cocktails that are unique without being weird.
Though Detroit seems to be the place to be in Southeastern Michigan these days, Bacco and The Oakland are reminders to branch out now and again.