Chef Anthony Lombardo, formerly of Bacco, will preview the SheWolf menu next month at Mabel Gray in Hazel Park

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The Detroit dining scene will get fresh Italian dishes and light aperitif cocktails early next year when chef Anthony Lombardo debuts his new restaurant, SheWolf, in the Selden Building.

Located on Selden between Cass and Second, next to Honest John’s bar and restaurant, Lombardo’s SheWolf will be highly influenced by Roman cooking. Lombardo spent almost two years living all over Italy. He went to culinary school there and visited Rome about 10 times during that stretch.

“It’s going to be a much more contemporary Italian than people are used to ... like what’s happening in Italy today” said Lombardo, a Sterling Heights native, who says he’s “very inspired” by Rome. “It’s my second favorite city in the world behind Detroit.”

Lombardo says SheWolf — which is named after a story in Roman folklore — will set itself apart from other new restaurants and the area’s other Italian restaurants because of its pasta, which he says he will be “very serious about.”

“I’ve been doing a lot of research on the freshness of flour and how it really changes the pasta,” he said, adding that the restaurant will mill flour on site using a mill he got from Italy.

“SheWolf’s going to set ourselves apart with our pasta program,” said Lombardo, who cooked for years at Bacco Italian restaurant in Southfield with chef Luciano Del Signore, who Lombardo calls “the Godfather of Italian food, especially in Detroit.”

“(SheWolf) is not going to be necessarily like a red-sauce Italian spot that a lot of Americans are kind of used to,” he said “It’s going to be more of a modern, chef-driven, craftsman, Italian ... traditional stuff, too.”

Lombardo says SheWolf will have a wood-fired grill and a rotating menu. The menu will pay homage to the city of Rome, where Lombardo says the best chefs in Italy go to prove themselves.

“Rome and food in itself has a lot of tradition to it, but Rome is also a city where the best chefs in Italy come to work because it’s a major metropolitan city, it’s a liberal, you know, forward-thinking city,” he said. “If you’re a great chef in Umbria, if you’re a great chef in Campania or Sicily, you want to go to Rome and showcase your talent because it’s more of a national and international stage there in Europe.”

The drink menu at SheWolf will focus on lighter beverages, a departure from the strong, liquor-heavy craft cocktails that are so prominent on modern menus today.

“The bar program is going to be very, kind of vermouth-focused, a lot of vermouth cocktails and a lot spritz cocktails,” he said “Like a low ABV (alcohol by volume), light, refreshing aperitivo, like wine and soda water mixed with some type of liqueur.”

While SheWolf, which will be about 3,300 square feet, won’t be ready until early next year, Lombardo will be offering a preview of his menu at Mabel Gray Nov. 21-25. He’ll serve a five-course tasting menu of all pastas, as well as a la carte dishes.

Mabel Gray is at 23825 John R in Hazel Park. Call (248) 398-4300 to reserve a table.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens

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