In July a new and highly anticipated Italian restaurant opened in Detroit. Shewolf is the brainchild of chef Anthony Lombardo, who honed his skills at Bacco, the longstanding Italian staple in Southfield. We checked it our just a few weeks after its opening.
The restaurant is surprisingly small but nonetheless beautiful and bright. The brightness is a welcome trend among restaurants lately. We were seated at a nice high-top table in the corner. It’s been too long since I sat at a high top and the table was thankfully spacious enough to seat the five of us and hold all our food comfortably.
Their cocktail menu is wine heavy, with nearly drink containing some wine or wine byproduct. Wine isn’t my favorite, so this was a bit rough. I think it would be nice if there were a couple cocktail options that did not utilize wine. The aperol spritz, for example, was beautiful but left a bitter aftertaste.
We were presented with a tasty parmesan puff for an amuse bouche. It’s always nice to have a little treat like this, but the dish would have been exponentially better if it had been warm. This is going to come up again later too.
Appetizers were up next. The first two courses are where the restaurant shines. The beef carpaccio was recommended to me, and though it is not typically something I would order, I tried it and am so glad I did. The beef was tender and so wonderfully complemented by the hazelnuts, black pepper, and olive oil. I could probably eat it every single day.
The artichoke carpaccio is a fun vegetarian twist on a raw presentation and was a hit at the table. I am not an artichoke fan, so I didn’t try it, but I was told it was great with hummus and tons of great olive oil. The Italian divorce soup was another hit, particularly with its tableside presentation. The pea salad with tons of fresh peas, pea pesto, and housemade bread was a revelation with bright, fresh flavors.
And I cannot forget about the housemade focaccia. It was warm and soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. As good as it was, it paled in comparison to the gorgonzola spread presented with it. I will forever and always crave that and want it on everything.
The pasta course was just as good. From the highly recommended and wonderfully spicy lamb neck ragu to the classic tomato laden amatriciana to the simple but addictive cacio e pepe to the decadent carbonara that was a twist on the classic that I loved and devoured like I hadn’t eaten in a week.
The pasta isn’t just made in house, but the wheat is also milled in house. As far as I know, there is no other place in the area doing something so unique. It bucks the Frankenfood, GMO trends and focusing on eating real food. They also have gluten free pasta that is prepared in a different area so there is no cross contamination. This is a restaurant that knows what it’s doing when it comes to pasta!
The entrees and desserts were less successful. The red snapper entrée was the standout. It was again spicy, as much of the menu is surprisingly so, though I didn’t mind. The fish was tender and flavorful without having a strong fishy flavor. The skin was left on but not crispy, but that’s the only negative about the dish.
The shellfish dish was fine, but nothing special, and the pork shoulder was basically a miss not just in terms of the meat not being tender but also the spice blend. The other entrée options were limited. I was intrigued by the cote de boeuf until I read it was breaded. I can’t imagine a reason to bread a piece of meat like that. I honestly didn’t order an entrée, but that was fine as I was satisfied by the carpaccio, pasta, and my dessert: the pistachio soft serve ice cream.
It was crazy and creamy and packed with pistachio flavor, but I know none of that was artificial. Like four other restaurants in the area, Shewolf was having some trouble with their soft serve machine so I was the only person who could have the ice cream. Major bummer.
The crostada could have been ah-mazing if it had been warm (I told you we’d come back to that). It was room temperature and fine. But warm with some ice cream of just whipped cream, oh, my, that would be a dessert to dream about.
The blueberry lemon semifreddo and strawberry rhubarb panna cotta (with crunchy rhubarb) were both fine, but nothing that kept us coming back for bite after bite.
Clearly Shewolf is on to something special. The appetizers and pasta, oh, the pasta, and the ice cream are out of this world crazy good. As with any new restaurant there are some things to work out. The beginnings are there and I have no doubt Shewolf will be a staple on the Detroit dining scene for years to come.
I’ll be back Friday to share my fashion for the evening as well as a little about the Detroit Club.