Shelby Twp. restaurant serves up Armenian, Italian fare

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

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.

The spiced duck, served medium rare, comes with kobacha squash, Brussels sprouts, bacon, pomegranate and is one of the most expensive dishes on the menu at $32.95

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.

Fried calamari is a sharable dish listed under the “hand to mouth” section of the menu at the Old World-style restaurant.

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.

Zingerman's goat cheese and tomato dish is one of many dishes that are served with bruschetta.

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?

Bonnie Mix, from left, Donna Nowaczyk, Fran Juricmy and Katherine Juricmy enjoy wine in one of two areas at La Cucina del Vino restaurant in Shelby Township.

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.

Noise level:

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