Osteria 222 offers classic Italian dishes and more

Molly Abraham

Big, uncovered windows offer a view of the busy thoroughfare, yet this Dearborn restaurant manages to retain a hideaway feeling with its setting of linens, flowers and crystal stemware. The newly christened Osteria 222 — it is the former Bistro 222 — offers a well-edited list of classic Italian dishes as well as a filet mignon and ribeye steak made with grass-fed beef.

The grilled salmon entree made with a scottish salmon filet, butternut squash, farro, cauliflower, carrots, spinach and balsamic reduction.

The attractive low-key ambiance, with noticeably good housekeeping, offers seating for just 52 at tables covered in linen overlaid with crisp white paper.

There is no bar seating currently, although that is scheduled to be remedied soon, according to chef and proprietor Dean Cicala, a longtime colleague of the late Michael Chamas, who founded the restaurant, and in whose memory Cicala has dedicated the place. He has installed Christopher Thompson, whose resume includes both the Money Tree and Joe Muer’s, as executive chef. Both chefs prepare the fresh, hand-rolled pastas that star on the menu.

The moment one of the pasta dishes comes to the table, it’s clear that this is not a place just going through the motions. The noodles are hand-rolled and accompanied by pristinely fresh and high quality vegetables, herbs and freshly grated cheeses.

The filetto “222” dish is comprised of grass-fed 8oz. filet, red pepper, eggplant, mushrooms, potatoes and beef demi.

The subtle pork sausage in such dishes as tagliatelle di bosco is housemade as well. It is one of the dishes that appears on both lunch and dinner menus, although there is a much wider choice of pastas in the evening. One might be pasta portofino, a blend of shrimp, spinach, tomato and garlic with squid ink noodles, as colorful and attractive as it is delicious.

Like everything else here, even the house salad, that often also-ran dish, is distinctive, a fresh mix of field greens, slim red onions and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiono cheese in balsamic vinaigrette served attractively on a square glass plate. The sturdy bread is from Cantoro Bakery, one of the few items not made in the kitchen here.

Wine is served in Riedel stemware, and the wine list includes a number of interesting boutique wines. In fact, all the barware is Riedel, and that underscores the emphasis on quality that is evident in both cuisine and setting.

Service is professional and knowledgeable by the black-clad staff. The overall impression is of an ensemble performance by all involved.

Because there is no front entrance, patrons arrive from the rear, helping to keep the atmosphere in the dining room serene.

Chef Christopher Thompson, of Osteria 222, prepares spinach to accompany an order at the Dearborn restaurant.


Osteria 222

22266 Michigan, Dearborn 48124

Call: (313) 792-7500

Web: osteria222.com


Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., dinner 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Closed Sun.

Prices: Lunch appetizers $5-$8, soups and salads $4-$14, pizzas $9-$10, sandwiches $9-$11, entrees $10-$22; dinner appetizers $8-$10, soups and salads $5-$16, entrees $18-$38, desserts $7.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar and a good wine list.

Noise level: Low

Parking: Rear municipal lot

Wheelchair access: No barriers.

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good ★★1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding