Cantoro Italian Market & Bakery has turned Plymouth into a food destination. Initially stepping inside the specialty food market’s automatic sliding door, your instinct might be to grab a cart and take out your grocery list — and you should do that. But you should also walk right over to Trattoria, the Italian restaurant located just past the homemade gelato counter.
Surrounded by fields and a driving range, its massive 40,000 square foot structure is hard to miss. Cantoro is already somewhat of a legend around metro Detroit. Its Livonia location has been open since 1974. But don’t miss the Plymouth branch that opened in March last year.
Trattoria was impressively packed on the Sunday I ventured out to try the menu. The atmosphere is friendly and casual, but could easily be a romantic date spot, too. Dress up or down … either way, you won’t feel like you’re eating at a grocery store. Tall ceilings with large windows, white linens, a fireplace, and a fountain — along with a beautiful bar that glows blue — all come together for a welcoming space. An outdoor patio is available in the summer.
The large menu boasts classic Italian dishes with fresh ingredients coming straight from the source — next door. A large wine list is available, and the bar has everything you’d want, including great espresso.
As far as antipasti, you really can’t go wrong. With so many options to choose from, this place would be ideal for a drinks and appetizers meet-up. We chose some of the most popular and interesting items like the calamari, the Gamberi alla Griglia — jumbo grilled shrimp marinated with lemon and chilies — and the Scamorza alla Piastra, a plate of Italian dry salami underneath perfectly dressed arugula with smoked mozzarella melted on top. Make sure to use the homemade bread brought to the table to sop up all the goodness from the Zuppa di Cozze — fresh mussels in a spicy garlic, chili, white wine, and tomato broth.
It would be a sin to leave without trying one of the house-made pastas. The ravioli was one of the best I’ve tried in Michigan, and the Elicoidali Norcina is another safe bet — perfectly cooked pasta in a creamy tomato sauce with ground sausage, white wine, and white truffle oil.
The rest of the menu includes 14 wood-fired oven pizzas and entrees like grilled lamb chops, filet mignon, and veal scaloppine. But the real eye opener? The Branzino alla Griglia, a grilled Mediterranean sea bass with perfectly cooked green beans, topped with crunchy almonds, and placed on a cannellini bean and roasted vegetable mixture tossed with a limoncello vinaigrette. We scraped the plate clean. The generous portion was large enough to share.
Be sure to end on a sweet note and get the gelato — you won’t regret it. The creaminess of the pomegranate flavor made our taste buds dance, and pomegranate seeds could be found in every other bite. I won’t admit how many other flavors we tried, but the options left us speechless and remembering our travels to Italy.
15550 N. Haggerty Rd., Plymouth; 734-420-1100