April 24, 2008 at 1:00 am

Molly Abraham

New Italian restaurant Tre Monti measures up

The dining room has a warm and comfortable feel. (Kiya Gibbons / Special to The Detroit News)

Troy's Big Beaver Road is well established as a restaurant row, and it is getting more so every year.

Just added to the array is Tre Monti, a restaurant in a free-standing building behind the fortress-like San Marino Club.

It is something just a little different from the other restaurants along the way. While it is done up in almost formal fashion, as befits its European-style building, it isn't glossy and there is no attempt to be overly sophisticated. Rather, the feeling in the dining room and adjoining cocktail lounge is warm and comfortable.

The high-ceilinged space is festooned with tapestries and banners above wine-colored carpeted floors, with rich blue table linens, decoratively folded napkins and a single fresh fuji mum at tables and a row of small, intimate booths along the windows looking out on the spacious patio.

The vibrant blue is carried out in the shirts worn by the servers, who seem very pleased with their handsome working environment and pass that enthusiasm along to the guests.

Tre Monti is the creation of the members of the San Marino Club, something planned for years as an extension of the club's cultural heritage.

However, it is much more mainstream than foreign in its menu approach. While the housemade pastas and a signature risotto are in the style of tiny San Marino, the republic tucked into the Italian landscape, it would take a super palate indeed to discern much difference between, say, the gnocchi and ravioli served here and those at any good Italian restaurant.

Single-page menus on crisp ivory stock offer, in addition to the pastas, just a couple of veal dishes, osso buco and involtini with prosciutto and mozzarella. There are two beef choices, grilled tenderloin and New York strip with wild mushrooms. Fish selections include the bouillabaise-like fish stew, and surprisingly, sauteed Dover sole, at $39 by far the highest-priced entree.

Side dishes of pasta, and a red wine vinaigrette-dressed green salad -- served either before or after the entree -- are included in the price of the dish, as is a basket of housemade focaccia.

Sauces, from the fresh-tasting pomodoro to the meat sauce (admirably light even though the menu calls it "hearty"), and the excellent minestrone are probably the best indications of the skill in the kitchen, and they truly measure up.

Tre Monti is off to a good start.

You can reach Molly Abraham at (313) 222-1475 or abraham67@ comcast.net.

Chef Richard Conover prepares veal at Tre Monti in Troy.
Mont Titano Chocolate Dessert is offered at Tre Monti.
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