Three Savory Startups

Photographs by Joe Vaughn

Bistro 222

This new café in Dearborn, which opened with little fanfare about 18 months ago, has European sensibilities. The sophisticated menu of chef-owner Michael Chamas (formerly of La Dolce Vita in Detroit and Wolfgang Puck in San Francisco) blends Italian and California-influenced dishes emphasizing fresh herbs, light cooking, and quality ingredients. Look for several wonderful original turns, such as the bacci (tiny pasta “purses” made only for Chamas) stuffed with Italian sausage and served in a light, brothy tomato sauce. 22266 Michigan Ave.; 313-792-7500.

Photographs by Joe Vaughn

Due Venti

In the metro area, few restaurants in recent memory have cooked with such a delicate and light touch as this delightful 12-table northern Italian dining room run by husband-and-wife chef team Nicole and David Seales. It has heart, a lovely atmosphere, and an enthusiastic staff so welcoming that it reminds us of small-town French and Italian family-run brasseries and trattorias. Everything is superb. It has one drawback, however. A very limited license effectively allows them to serve the wines of only one winery. The food demands more. 220 S. Main St., Clawson; 248-288-0220.

Photographs by Joe Vaughn

El Barzon

This Mexican-Italian gem, which opened in late 2006, is tucked away on Junction, just off Michigan Avenue on the western edge of Detroit’s Mexicantown. Former Il Posto assistant chef Norberto Garita and his wife, Silvia, offer a bifurcated menu. Half is Mexican, because that’s their culture and community (marvelous pozole!). And half is Italian, because Garita made all the pasta dishes (the strozzapreti and mushroom cavatelli are now here) and more at the original Il Posto — including the breaded bone-in veal cutlet Milanese (among the best) at half the price here. It’s true, and you’ve got to go. 3710 Junction, Detroit; 313-894-2070.