San Morello authentic Italian restaurant inside of Detroit‘s trendiest hotel, Shinola Hotel, is one of the best places to snag a bite to eat in the Motor City. If you enjoy fire baked, hand tossed pizzas, large uncomplicated menus, and fresh, locally sourced ingredients, San Morello Restaurant is just what you’ve been looking for. The brain child of Chef Andrew Carmellini, San Morello is located on the hotel’s ground floor, accessible to the left of the hotel’s reception desk, or via the street entrance. Metro-Detroit’s most enticing brunch and dinner spot, this authentic Italian eatery caters to diners with a refined palate, and delights guests by carrying on the same traditions chefs of Southern Italian have been using for centuries.
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Address: 1400 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48226
Food Type: Locally Sourced, Southern Italian Inspired
Dining Experience: Indoor
Price: $50+ per Person
Dress Code: Smart Casual+
Special Diets: Vegetarian, Pescatarian
This cozy, light-drenched space has beautiful floor to ceiling windows, with elegant linen window treatments, making the entire place feel like home. Indeed, my husband and I felt as though we had been transported back to a pizza joint we came across while walking downtown in Naples one spring day during our most recent visit to Italy. The warm browns, creams and pops of navy pair beautifully with the abundance of plants that lend a sense of place to the restaurant, which makes guests feel welcome to stay awhile and truly enjoy their food in unassuming surroundings.
Upon our first visit to San Morello for brunch this past weekend, we were greeted warmly and sat immediately, as we had reservations. I highly recommend calling about a day in advance to reserve a table for your desired time, perhaps even sooner if you intend to visit over a weekend, because we saw a few larger parties attempt to find tables, but without a reservation there simply wasn’t enough room, despite the restaurants large size. To say it was a full house would be an understatement. I took the photos of empty chairs and tables after the restaurant was technically closed, and there were still a number of people lingering. As soon as one table got up, the tables were quickly turned over and another party was seated with haste and efficiency.
We ordered a large assortment of dishes to get an idea of the flavors, plating, and cooking techniques the restaurant used, which wasn’t difficult to do considering the fact that everything on the menu sounded amazing. I ordered an organic cold-pressed “Drought” juice, the “Green” which consisted of kale, celery, and apple to drink. I thought the juice would be fresh pressed and brought to me in a glass, but it was presented in a plastic bottle and then poured table side, which was very disappointing because I really try not to waste plastic in my day-to-day life. However, the juice tasted phenomenal, and even my husband who isn’t a big fan of the celery and kale juice I make for myself at home agreed it was delicious.
Our antipasto selection was the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with a hot honey drizzle & crunchy garlic slivers, served with a fragrant sesame bread, and the Beet Carpaccio, plated with Idyll Farms Goat Cheese, and pickled cherries. It was supposed to come with hazelnuts but they were mysteriously missing from our dish. Despite the absent hazelnuts (or if they were there, perhaps the shavings on the beets, we couldn’t taste them at all and they added nothing to the dish), both were delicious and flavorful. I love vegetables in all forms, and I’ve always loved beets. These had beautiful marbled colors that transitioned from deep to light pinks and had a delicate vinegar flavor that complimented the sweet goat cheese and fresh herbs perfectly. I recommend ordering these two dishes together, because the massive amounts of sheep’s milk ricotta can also be enjoyed with the beets for an ephemeral flavor profile all its own.
I savored the Creamy Polenta dish, which was plated with a fried duck egg, mushroom marsala, and parmigiana-reggiano. My husband ordered the Breakfast Spaghetti made with kale, and a poached “farm egg” covered in a slightly sweet, extremely light cheese sauce with salt and pepper. Both dishes are typically served with bacon, but we are pescatarians and don’t eat meat, so we asked that the bacon be left off both. I’m a big fan of polenta and have eaten it on 4 continents, and this was by far the best, most flavorful polenta I’ve ever had.
The duck egg, my favorite type of egg, was fried to absolute perfection, and the mushroom marsala is something I’m still dreaming of, days later. My husband was delighted by the concept of spaghetti for breakfast and also enjoyed his meal, but we both agreed that the light cheese sauce of his spaghetti was a bit too light and would have been lovely with the addition of fresh garlic or mushrooms in lieu of the bacon, so keep in mind if you order this dish, sans bacon, that something should be substituted in place of the bacon for additional flavor and texture.
To finish out our meal, we ordered the Bomboldoni De San Morello, which are traditional Italian cream-filled donuts, dusted with cinnamon sugar mixture and dipped into a bittersweet chocolate dip. I can’t eat gluten, so I only tasted the filling and the chocolate dip, and it was great. My husband had no trouble finishing all three throughout the day; he loved them that much.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at San Morello. Everything was brought out to us quickly, the atmosphere was fun and inviting, and it was evident that the herbs that graced every dish were picked at the absolute peak of perfection for maximum flavor, which is very difficult to achieve in the middle of winter in Michigan. The staff, particularly our server Kyra and the manager Tim, were so kind, professional, and friendly, that we would visit again just to say hello to our new friends. I really can’t say enough good things about the people who work at San Morello, as their impeccable attention to detail, top notch customer service skills, and eagerness to ensure that each guest loves their meal is what really makes this restaurant shine, and it makes San Morello stand head and shoulders above other Italian eateries in Michigan, as well as other Detroit restaurants.
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