When proprietors Mario Fallone and his sons Michael and John decided to add a restaurant to their Plymouth market, they started with the thought of opening a little spot where patrons could relax with a cup of coffee.
That idea expanded quickly, however, and what might have been a modest coffee shop turned into Cantoro Trattoria, a four-star Italian restaurant with an elegant Faema espresso machine that cost more than a luxury car, white linens on the tables and an outstanding menu in the hands of executive chef Anthony Calabrese.
He and a professional staff make everything in-house from the crusty bread and the pastas to the gelato and tiramisu.
To say that people are surprised at the level the Fallones have reached with their trattoria is an understatement. As the guide books might say, it’s worth a detour.
The stylishly contemporary dining room and bar, carved out of the west side of the market and separate from the shoppers and their carts, is handsomely done, with a rich blue and white color scheme, contemporary lighting and a few black-and-white photographs of Italy. Eighty may be seated indoors and the capacity is doubled in warm weather with tables on the patio outside the big windows. Servers’ blue dress shirts and long black aprons are equally stylish.
The listings are on both sides of menus printed on elegant ivory stock. Choices include classics, such as the lovely combination of prosciutto and melon, as well as veal scallopini and Margherita pizzas. House specialties are typified by an unusual salad with strips of fennel and segments of orange salad topped with balsamic glaze and a frilly bouquet of micro arugula. Another is housemade ricotta gnocchi with basil pesto, and tube pasta with ground sausage, white wine, cream, just a touch of tomato and a splash of white truffle oil, a robustly flavored dish meant for adventurous palates.
The dishes, made with pristinely fresh ingredients, are individually garnished, and chef Calabrese has an artist’s touch with the chosen accompaniments. He adds polenta and rapini to the veal scallopini, roasted fingerling potatoes and grilled asparagus to the grilled lamb chops and cannellini beans and roasted vegetables to the Mediterranean sea bass. Even a dish as basic as minestrone is elevated with its precision-cut vegetables and full-flavored tomato broth.
The 20 thin-crusted pizzas — with such toppings as Yukon gold potatoes, pancetta, spinach and rosemary, and marinated heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil — are made in a wood-burning oven, and have their own chef, Johnny Pastore.
Dishes are served in generous portions on white china.
It almost goes without saying that the wine list lives up to the cuisine. Sommelier Michael Larranaga keeps it fresh by adding new wines regularly to the array that offers many Italian wines and what he calls “the rest of the world,” and the multi-page list lives up to that description. He’s not the only sommelier on the staff. Restaurant manager Alex Bazzy is also a certified sommelier.
On the lower level is a beautiful, European-style wine cellar used for private parties and wine dinners.
15550 N. Haggerty, Plymouth
Call: (734) 667-1199
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Sat., and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun., dinner 4:30-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Prices: Lunch antipasti $6-$17, panini $11-$14, soups $6, salads $7-$18, dinner antipasti $8-$17, pastas $14-$26, entrees $18-$41, pizzas $11-$16 at both lunch and dinner, desserts $4-$5.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar and a notable wine list
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Attached lot
Wheelchair access: No barriers