Review: Cantoro's attention to detail superb

Molly Abraham
Special to The Detroit News

 The Metro area certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to Italian restaurants. Among the best of them is Cantoro Italian Trattoria in Plymouth.

Branzino alla griglia: Grilled Mediterranean Sea bass, cannellini beans with roasted vegetables, green beans almandine and limoncello vinaigrette.

   Now it has a sibling in Troy, in a manor house set back from busy Big Beaver Road behind the San Marino Club, and it has the aura of country estate.

Maybe it isn’t really away from it all, but the new Cantoro allows diners to suspend disbelief while they enjoy authentic Italian fare.

     It replaces the shuttered Tre Monti with a simpler-but-still-upscale menu and a toned-down-but-luxurious setting that includes private dining rooms and outdoor seating on three terraces. The restaurant scene has moved well away from the special occasion style that typified the Tre Monti approach. Cantoro is much more approachable.

   While the look of the many-windowed dining room has been simplified, it is still handsome, with its collection of colorful Italian pottery displayed above the fireplace, tables swathed in linen and well-dressed waitstaff.

    The heart of the menu at lunch and dinner is pasta, typified by such classics as tagliatelle with a sauce made with not one, but four types of meat, veal, beef, sausage and pancetta, and ravioli filled with veal. The fresh pastas are house made, the dried are Italian imports, and all are notable, from the kitchen headed by Antonio Calabrese ever since the first Cantoro opened four years ago. Antonio Diaz is his counterpart in the kitchen in Troy. Both restaurants serve the same menu.

   While any one of the 14 pasta dishes could certainly qualify as a main course, especially after an appetizer such as the classic combination of prosciutto and melon or the full-bodied mussels soup,  the entrees have their own appeal. They include a grilled veal chop, saltimbocca alla Romano, medallions of veal tenderloin and grilled lamb chops, all appropriately garnished. 

   The crusty bread brought to the tables with olive oil for dipping is also an in-house production and so is the a la carte focaccio with sea salt, rosemary and olive oil. Thin-crusted pizzas in creative interpretations range from toppings of roasted eggplant, whole roasted cloves of garlic and fresh basil, to Yukon Gold potatoes, pancetta and spinach.

Desserts include tiramisu and cannoli and you don’t have to ask if they are house made.

  Accompanying all of this is an impressive international wine list with emphasis, of course, on Italian bottlings. Cantoro received the Wine Spectator’s 2017 award of excellence. By-the-glass selections include two wines rarely served in single portions, Brunello di Montecito 2012 and Amarone Brolo della Giare 2011.

   The Troy location has a grab-and-go market currently, but plans to expand it to be more akin to the extensive market in Plymouth.

   Mario, John and Michael Fallone are the proprietors of these well-run spots.


Cantoro Italian Trattoria

1695 E. Big Beaver Road, Troy

(248) 817-2424

Rating: ★★★★


Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4-8 p.m. Sun.

Prices: Lunch appetizers $8-$17, salads $7-$19, pizzas $14-$21, entrees $14-$26; dinner appetizers $9-$19, pastas $18-$39, entrees $21-$46, desserts $4-$6.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar and an impressive wine list

Noise level: Moderate

Wheelchair access: No barriers

Parking: Attached lot.


What the ratings mean

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

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding