By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
FERNDALE – If you’re looking for a dining experience and not just a place to eat, Ferndale’s new Via Nove should be your destination. The restaurant, open since February, has added a welcome upscale presence to the city.
First impressions count, and the first impression one has on entering Via Nove is that owner Joe Beato is a man who pays attention to aesthetic detail. The restaurant’s interior is spacious, with high ceilings and a large, roomy dining space. Such a setting could feel impersonal, but Beato has chosen decorations that draw and warmly welcome the eye. From the huge urn that sat in an opening in the wall to my right, to the candles flickering in sconces behind me, to the pots of fresh flowers that greeted me in the entryway, everything about the restaurant’s decor encourages patrons to relax and enjoy.
Of course, essential as a pleasant decor is to a fine dining experience, it is the food that counts. And on this count, Via Nove is also sure to please.
My dining companion and I began our meal with the Bruschetta Assortita, because as he said, “Every restaurant puts a lot of work into their signature dishes – it’s how they do the simple things that counts.” As it turned out, the Bruschetta was presented with as much attention to detail as the decor; when it arrived I pronounced it almost too beautiful to eat! But eat we did, and it turned out that the appetizer’s flavors were also quite deliciously artistic. The wild mushroom was seasoned subtly, so the mushroom flavor predominated, the tomatoes tasted fresh, and the grilled vegetables made me wish we’d ordered two servings.
My dining companion ordered the Lombo di Maiale Con Castagne – an apple and chestnut stuffed port loin, served with cabbage strudel, and I chose Capesante Con Rose di Salmone – sea scallops wrapped with salmon, served with mushroom napoleon. One bite of his meal convinced me to abandon my long-held prejudice against combining fruit with meat. The pork was tender, and the apple flavor actually complemented it in a way I had not expected. As for my own dish, all I can say is I salute the genius who thought to combine my two favorite seafoods. And, if you have trouble believing that cabbage can be a delight, try the cabbage strudel and you will be converted. I chose the house Chianti with my meal and found it an excellent complement; dry and just a bit smoky, which set off the other flavors quite nicely.
There is only one potential caveat that I can add to my overall highly favorable impression of Via Nove. One is that it may be better to bring a group of friends to enjoy the decor and cuisine than to bring a special date for romantic conversation, because the large, open room may become quite noisy when filled to capacity – as I expect it will be, and often.
Via Nove is located at 344 W. Nine Mile in Ferndale. Closed Mondays. Call 248-336-9936.