Ottava Via, 1480 Michigan Avenue, Detroit MI
In Detroit’s Historic Corktown Neighborhood
Visited June 28, 2013
My first visit was a most fortuitous circumstance. I have been driving by this building for months and months just waiting for it to open. The sophisticated black awnings have been up, but it has always been dark inside. I wondered if it would ever open up. Last night I was driving home from work thinking about dinner on a dark very rainy night and noticed the lights were on and people were walking in. I parked my car and strolled in, walked past the hostess station and walked up to an empty bar stool and sat down. As it is an italian restaurant, I ordered a Negroni cocktail. This is where I started to realize that I perhaps walked in on a party that I wasn’t invited to….The bartender told me that they only had wine tonight, but “when the restaurant opens”, they will have a full compliment of wines, craft beers and liquor.
“…when the restaurant opens?”
I ordered a full bodied Cabernet and started to look around. The space looks great, a long bar against the side wall, with a large clock as the center feature. There is exposed ductwork painted a warm creme color hanging below a deep burgundy ceiling. At the rear is an open kitchen with chefs and staff busily cooking and plating dishes. Looking at the “small plate” dishes and pizza being served, it looked like a promising dinner spot. The bartender asked if I was going to be eating. I smiled and said yes, and she placed a plate and napkin wrapped silverware set -but no menu -and walked away. A very happy and proud host walked up to me, introduced himself, and told me that they would be bringing out a variety of dishes for me to try. He wanted to know what I thought of each of them, and wanted me to be brutally honest, as they want to perfect the dishes to make sure everything is perfect on the menu …”when the restaurant opens”.
The food started to be placed in front of me. First an Italian chop salad with garbanzo beans, then a sweet italian sausage and grilled pepper pizza, then sliced spicy sausage with grilled peppers, then pork wrapped in pork belly and steamed for 36 hours with a citrus fennel salad on top, then…..I thanked them and said that I could not try anything else as I was full. Everything was really really good. The pizza perhaps was not as “unique” as the other dishes, but perfectly prepared. The other dishes were fresh tasting, and full of flavor. The spicy sausage was spicy (as you would expect) but really was bold with a flavor a little different than I have had elsewhere…and I think this will be the first dish I order when I come back…or will it be the pork belly which was very unique, tender and delicious, delicious, delicious.
Looking around I see one of the owner’s of a local bar-b-que spot with his entourage, the owner’s of a local craft cocktail lounge, the owner’s of a local coffee house, the owner of a local real estate and development firm…I was in really good company among all of the invited guests.
The buzz is great, the space is nice, the food is delicious, and I am so glad to see that the lights are on…finally.
UPDATE: The restaurant is now open!
I went back for dinner after they opened , the food was delicious and yes, I finally got my Negroni Cocktail…
I have been back several times since, it has been all good.
Ottava Via is located in a Dime Savings Bank branch building, which was most recently a pawn shop. It is next to the legendary Nemo’s Bar (Voted the 3rd best sports bar in the country by Sports Illustrated). This stretch of Michigan Avenue is in Historic Corktown- Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.
in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way Bentonville AR
I am going out on a limb and saying that this must be the most expensive building ever built for a museum cafeteria. It spans the river (forming one of the Crystal Bridges), with tension cables holding up the wood arched roof framing spaced far enough apart to put bands of skylights between them The side walls are frameless glass panels inset into the floor spanning up to the underside of the wood arches beams. Smaller glass pieces angle out in-between the wood arched frames to complete the enclosure.
Serving hamburgers, fries, ice cream, chicken salad fruit plate, and other cafeteria food. You place your order and are given a plastic card with a number on it that you are instructed to place in the metal stand in the middle of your table. Runners bring your food to the table when it is ready. What a juxtaposition sitting in the spectacular space that must have cost tens of millions of dollars.
Oh, yes the chicken salad and fruit plate was good.