San Morello to open Tuesday inside Shinola Hotel

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
NoHo Hospitality partners Josh Pickard, left, chef Andrew Carmellini and Luke Ostrom stand in front of San Morello at 1400 Woodward in Detroit.

San Morello, the first of three new bars and restaurants inside the Shinola Hotel in Detroit, is set to open Tuesday.

There's excitement around this restaurant — billed as an urban Italian neighborhood spot — not only because it's on the ground floor of this new luxury boutique hotel slated to open soon at 1400 Woodward, but also because it's a product of chef Andrew Carmellini and his NoHo Hospitality Group.

Carmellini's name is associated with others who exemplify a higher échelon, including James Beard and Robert De Niro. 

An Ohio native, this chef has won James Beard Awards, worked in kitchens all over the world (including a Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy) and he and his wife, Gwen Hyman, have authored two cookbooks. 

San Morello at the Shinola Hotel in downtown Detroit is open for dine-in service on Thanksgiving Day.

Carmellini's NoHo Hospitality Group of NYC is overseeing the food and beverage service for the 130-room Shinola Hotel, which is a partnership between the luxury brand and Bedrock.

NoHo includes restaurant and hospitality industry veterans Luke Ostrom and Huntington Woods native Josh Pickard. Together they have restaurants in New York City and Baltimore, including Locanda Verde, an Italian restaurant inside De Niro's TriBeCa hotel, the Greenwich. 

Named after a village in the ball of the foot of Italy's boot, San Morello will serve house-made pasta, salads and pizzas made in a Neapolitan brick oven. Carmellini says the approach will be a variation of what he's done in his other restaurants, with, of course, keeping the local landscape in mind. 

"It's hard to do it now in the winter, but we plan on using Michigan ingredients," said Carmellini. Besides the bounty of Michigan's farms and orchards, the warmer months will also bring a sidewalk patio along Woodward.  

San Morello inside the Shinola Hotel is an urban, neighborhood Italian restaurant.

Styled in elegant and modern decor with a brown and white checkerboard floor and lush brown furniture to match, the restaurant has banquette seating in two rooms. The bar area has high ceilings and lots of natural lighting with views of Woodward and Grand River. A smaller, more cozy dining space gives a view of the open kitchen. 

Although the chef-driven San Morello is inside a luxury hotel, Ostrom stresses that it will be approachable and will employ Midwestern hospitality.

When told about the staffing struggles some Detroit restaurateurs have experienced, Ostrom says they haven't had any issues so far, but they have brought on a significant number of team members from New York City to help launch this Detroit spot. In fact, he said some of their NYC-based staff jumped at the chance work at San Morello and relocated their families to Detroit. 

Carmellini says Detroit's chefs have shown them some of that Midwestern hospitality, as well. In the three years they've spent preparing for Tuesday's opening, the trio has made a point to visit some of the city's top dining destinations, including SheWolf, Selden Standard, Takoi, Lady of the House and nationally recognized suburban spots such as Voyager and Mabel Gray. 

"Even chefs I didn't know have been very welcoming and have said, 'We're glad you're here,' " he said. 

An area for servers can be seen from a smaller dining area, trimmed with elegant tile work.

The restaurant group's two other projects inside the Shinola Hotel are Evening Bar and The Brakeman, an open air beer hall on the Grand River side of the main floor. Evening Bar, which also has a location inside the Smyth Hotel in NYC, could make its debut by New Year's Eve, but The Brakeman still has a few months to go. 

San Morello will be open for dinner only at first, followed by breakfast and lunch service. Call (313) 209-4700 for reservations. Walk-ins are welcome, too.

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Servers gather around the bar at San Morello while training on Tuesday.