We were going to have dinner the other night with The Caller and his wife, but he was not up to it, so we will have to reschedule for another time. The Caller enjoys his food and his wine and he is also partial to craft cocktails and it got me thinking about another time that we had gotten together for dinner. He lives quite away from us and we usually try to find someplace that is between our two houses and that is why we normally go to Ann Arbor for dinner. One time for dinner he suggested that we meet up in Brighton and I was a bit amazed, but since I know how he does enjoy a good meal, I was game for his suggestion, even though one does not think of Brighton as a culinary center, but as always, he had selected a great venue.
Ciao Amici’s considers themselves as a “contemporary Italian cuisine” restaurant, so that they are not confined to only the classic dishes that one thinks of when dining Italian. That being said, when I looked at the menu, there were plenty of classic dishes, but there were some distinctive offerings as well. I was all set to order Veal Oscar, as it is a dish that I have been fond of since the first time that I had it, years ago, at The London Chophouse in Downtown Detroit. That is until I heard the special dish of the evening. We had started off with a couple of appetizers to share among us. We had the Char-grilled Calamari served with a roasted garlic and lentil salad with a rosemary aioli, as well as “Rosa’s Mushrooms” that were sautéed with shallots and fresh thyme in a Marsala cream sauce on crostini. The Caller had the Filet Mignon that was served with potatoes, braised spinach, tomato butter and a Cognac mustard cream sauce, while his wife had the Shrimp and Lobster Capellini with garlic, leeks, asparagus and cherry tomatoes in a cream sauce tossed with angel hair pasta and Parmesan Reggiano. My Bride had pan-seared Ahi Tuna that had a Nicoise olive crust served with a ratatouille, artichoke hearts and a Great Northern bean puree puttanesca sauce. I had their Macaroni and Cheese with Lobster, and it was the first time that I had that dish, but certainly not the last time. It was a decadent dish of five cheeses with macaroni pasta and a lobster tail done in butter atop of the dish, I mean it was so good that I hardly even wanted to share it with the others, but we always share the different tastes of the evening. We were all extremely happy with our dishes and in the restaurant, to put it mildly.
We started off the evening with a bottle of white wine and followed it up with a red, which I think is the proper progression and they were both Italian wines. We had Castello di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 1999. This is a single estate wine from the town of Tassarolo in the Piedmont region of Italy and Gavi was awarded the designation in 1998, and is by far the most popular white wines from Italy. The wine is made entirely from the Cortese di Gavi, which is known also as Cortese Bianco and the wine is noted for its unique “flinty” taste. The second wine was from Tenimenti Angelini which started producing wines in 1985 and it was their Tre Rose Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 1997 from the Tuscan region. These wines originally lived in the shadow of Chianti, as part of the region is in one of the sub-zones of Chianti, but it now has its own designation and rightfully so. Like Chianti this wine is made from the Sangiovese grape which is known locally as Prugnolo Gentile and the DOCG laws require that the wine must be sixty to eighty percent Sangiovese and this wine is ninety percent Sangiovese with ten percent Cabernet Sauvignon and it is aged by law for twenty-four months in oak barrels. I have always found these wines to be easy to drink when young or even if one gets a chance to enjoy an aged version. Of course, no one really objected to this wine even for those that had seafood for dinner, as it is just a mellow wine.