We just recently ate at Casa Pernoi, the latest restaurant from the creative mind of Luciano Del Signore, and I have sung his praises for years. In fact, my Bride and I started going to the original Del Signore restaurant started by his father in Livonia, right after we got married. Fonte D’Amore was just a great old-fashioned Italian restaurant that could please everyone and it was always packed. We probably ate there at least once every other week, it was so affordable, delicious and we always tried to have our same waiter, not to mention I could go to the bar in the back and join the cigar smokers. My Bride used to joke that I could probably run for political office, because I was always working the room, there were so many customers of mine that had discovered the restaurant, just like we had. They also had to greatest “Garlic Soup” at least that is what I called it, it was an Eggplant and Garlic Puree, but since I am not partial to eggplant, I changed the name and everyone knew what I wanted. He went on to open Bacco, still one of the best in the Greater Detroit area. He went on the create a little chain of pizzerias, called Bigalora Cucina, after he was totally happy with the pizza dough that he created and totally different from all others, and from this chain he also created a couple of food trucks that had the exact same pizza oven installed on them, that are in all of his restaurants. The man never rests. He then came up with Pernoi, which eventually morphed into Casa Pernoi and well worth the trip to downtown Birmingham to enjoy his culinary artistry.
The four of us had an excellent dinner. The beginning of the meal centered around the bread basket that featured four different breads, made in house, and my Bride and I are not bread eaters, but we ended up asking for a second basket, the bread was that great. So, we ordered some plates that enhanced this appetizer portion of the meal with an order of European butter with Maidan salt, Roasted Garlic Puree with aged Balsamic, Calabrian Hot Chile Peppers and an order of Duck Rillette with Apple Butter and Ground Cherry, which my Bride said that it reminded her of Foix Gras, in that it was so rich and luxurious. Our Daughter-in-Law had Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter, Walnuts and Gorgonzola. Our Son had the Rigatoni Spicy Palomino with an addition of house-made Italian Sausage. My Bride had an order of Branzino with Green Olives, Artichoke, Cannellini Beans and Grape Leaves (and I knew that, as soon as I saw that on the menu). I went a little out of character and had the Michigan Venison Loin wrapped in Bacon, with Braised Red Cabbage and Pear Butter. We also had dessert, our Daughter-in- Law had “The King” which was Banana Bread, Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter Banana Gelato and Brown Butter Popcorn. Our Son had the Cannoli Cake which was a Cinnamon Cake, Sweet Ricotta Cream, Orange Marmalade, Chocolate Crunch and Pistachio Streusel. My Bride ordered the Cookie Plate which had Pistachio Biscotti, Amaretti and Seasonal Jam Cookies. Just as we were getting ready to leave Luciano came into the dining room and that was reason for us to stay and catch up a little bit.
My Bride began the evening with a Negroni, which is becoming her favorite cocktail of choice these days. I started off with Bravium Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2018 by winemaker Derek Rohlffs using fruit from the Reis Vineyard. The wine is basically sold by their mailing list, a few boutique shops and select restaurants. The Russian River Valley is located in the center of Sonoma County and is known for its cool and long growing season. The fruit is hand harvested at night, and spent eleven months in a mix of French and Hungarian Oak, of which twenty-one percent was new. Very Old World in that the wine evoked apples, pineapple and vanilla, floral notes, good acidity and a flinty-terroir finish. We then went with Band of Vintners “Consortium” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2018. Four winemakers, one Master Sommelier, and two wine executives got together to create an affordable bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is predominately Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc blended in, and the fruit is from sustainably-farmed vineyards. The wine was aged for fifteen months in French Oak that delivered a wine with dark fruits and some pepper notes it was still a bit feisty as I think it was opened too early, but still a solid wine. While they were enjoying their desserts, I decided to have a liquid dessert, and a couple of cookies as well. I enjoyed a glass of Niepoort 10-Year-Old Tawny NV. Niepoort is a family-owned producer of Port and wines in the Douro Valley in Portugal, and it was founded by Dutch immigrants in 1842. Originally all the grapes were bought from grower vineyards, but in 1987 they bought some Quintas and now they have their own acreage and vineyards to build on. They were once known for their Colheita ports, but now the emphasis is on Vintage Port, including Tawny, LBV and White Port. Aged Tawny Port is the epitome of Tawny Port, made from the best wines of undeclared vintages, that have to be in the casks for at least six years. This wine is made from the following grapes varieties; Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cao, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousao and Tinta Roriz. The wine was served chilled and the aroma of orange and lemon zest, and flavors of caramel and honey with a nice long sweet finish is really better than a dessert to me, perhaps a good cigar, but I gave that up years ago, back in the days of Font D’Amore.