Luciano Del Signore decided not to wait for a more impressive milestone. With his Bacco Ristorante reaching the teens this year — 13 to be exact — he decided to give it a major update.
It was accomplished while the restaurant stayed open, squeezing in what was extensive work by taking advantage of Sundays and holidays. The result is a lighter, brighter contemporary look and feel, with less clutter. The many-windowed dining room has white walls outlined in black, an eye-catching glass chandelier in the center of the coved ceiling where, previously, there was a multicolored mural, and a farm table seating 12 in the center of the room, the only table not covered in white linen.
On the back wall, an antipasto spread of cheeses, prosciutto, charcuterie and pickled vegetables and a red, vintage-style hand-crank meat slicer add warmth to the room. It’s not a help-yourself array, but is served by the well-dressed staff. And speaking of well-dressed, the white shirts on the servers are accessorized with pure white satin ties, something of a tribute to their skill in food handling.
The Italian cuisine has always been something special at Bacco, so, while there was an upgrade in the setting, there was no need to reinvent the classic fare, from a number of regions in Italy, not just from Abruzzi, where the family originated. This is one restaurant where lunch is not a pale imitation of the evening meal. With the exception of the lunchtime burger, guests can get a real sense of the kitchen’s expertise any time of day.
The list of appetizers is pretty much the same day or night, with its carpaccio made with tenderloin of beef and garnished with mushrooms, arugula and Parmigiano, diver scallops with fava bean puree and chopped tomatoes, and a number of appealing salads. The same holds true for the list of house-made pastas, from the simple gnocchi with tomato and basil to the tagliatelle Bolognese and the cavatelli with mushroom ragu, and also the entrees from the veal and beef dishes typified by braised veal shanks (osso bucco) with risotto and saltimbocca (sliced veal with prosciutto and sage) all served on white china.
The small bar adjacent to the dining room got its own redo, with rich bamboo wood and gray-grained white marble. It’s notable that there is not a single television screen anywhere to be seen, so that guests who choose the bar may dine and drink without distraction. Wines are emphasized, of course, and the cellar contains a notable selection of Italian wines.
The attention to detail throughout Bacco is notable. For instance, the menus are presented bound in soft black leather covers, something Del Signore and his cousin and general manager Alberto De Santis, noticed at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. When they researched the origin of the covers, they were delighted to discover that they are produced by a company in Michigan. Genuine leather, of course, reflecting the house’s insistence on quality, whether it’s the signature Mediterranean sea bass or the strawberries for the gelato.
29410 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield
Call: (248) 356-6600
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri., 4-11 p.m. Sat. Closed Sun.
Prices: Lunch appetizers $9-$16, pastas $15-$22, entrees $17-$35,
dinner appetizers $10-$17, pastas $16-$24,
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar and extensive wine list
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Complimentary valet