Sometimes it may seem that most of the good restaurants are in certain areas. Not necessarily. Shelby Township may not be known as a restaurant destination, but the young La Cucina del Vino has certainly put the area on the map.
The international menu at the spot that opened in September 2015, encourages the sharing of dishes, from a variety of bruschetta to Armenian grape leaves and beet ravioli, reflecting proprietor Lisa Ribaudo’s Armenian and Italian heritage.
Ribaudo, who for many years was wine director for the Andiamo restaurant group, emphasizes wine and also creative and unusual presentation of such dishes as Tuscan shrimp, a handsome charcuterie platter served on a rustic board, and balsamic glazed pork chops. The setting is two floors of what would be an ordinary storefront on Van Dyke and 24 Mile except for its warm Old World décor of family portraits and rustic furnishings that gives it style and backs up the well-prepared fare.
Chef Domonique Morsello is the talent in the kitchen, along with sous chef Nick Costello, two of the noticeably well-trained staff that extends to the attentive bartenders and waiters.
Guests may choose a table or a seat at the bar in the livelier first floor room or opt for the quieter second floor dining room. The menu is equally accommodating, with choices that range from “hand to mouth, fork to mouth” dishes such as Armenian grape leaves from the proprietor’s heritage to grilled octopus with a host of accompaniments from green olives to fingerling potatoes and a blend of dried peppers. Each may be an entrée for one, or a sharable appetizer.
That’s also true of the grilled brushchetta topped with goat cheese and tomato, or chargrilled portabello mushrooms. Under the heading “forks and knives” are the more traditional entrees, including meat and seafood dishes typified by an interesting spiced duck breast served medium rare, with colorful trimmings of kabocha squash, bacon, Brussels sprouts and fresh pomegranate. At $32.95, it is the most expensive dish on the menu, along with filet mignon served with fennel whipped potatoes.
There are also many entrees well under $20. Salads are served family style even for two, and they include a Caesar and a house toss of spring mix, red onion and cucumber in a balsamic Dijon dressing, housemade as is just about everything here.
The menu is supplemented each night with a list of specials that might include linguine with shrimp and mussels and white wine. Everything here is served with flair and attention to detail.
And not only is chef Morsello adept at the solid stuff, her desserts are equally appealing as is quickly apparent with a bite of one of her small cannoli made from a family recipe. And need I say that there is a very good wine list?
La Cucina del Vino
52965 Van Dyke, Shelby Township
Call: (586) 254-2999
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 4-midnight Fri.-Sat., 4-9 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Appetizers $9.95-$19.95, the latter for the charcuterie board; soups $4.95, salads for two or more $9.95-$14.95, entrees $15.95-$32.95, desserts $2.-$12.95.
Credit cards: All major.
Liquor: Full bar with an emphasis on wine.
Wheelchair access: No barriers. and an elevator to the second floor dining room.
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding