Meatballs

Executive Chef Fabio Viviani brings his Italian flair to Bar Verona in Commerce Township, with two new openings coming within the next year.

Photos via Bar Verona Facebook

The New York strip steak I ordered recently at Bar Verona stands out as one of the tastiest steaks I’ve enjoyed in years. Topped with garlic-herb butter and grilled medium-rare as specified, my steak came with whipped potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon. Based on this entrée and other items sampled, I have high hopes for this upscale-casual Italian trattoria that opened June 30 in Commerce Township.

Bar Verona is a new venture for Executive Chef Fabio Viviani, a native of Florence, Italy. In 2008, the celebrity chef/entrepreneur was a popular contestant on Bravo Network’s program Top Chef. Moving to southern California, Viviani began launching restaurants in the United States, including three in his current hometown of Chicago. Viviani’s restaurant group co-owns this first Bar Verona with Troy-based Yellow Door Hospitality Group, whose principals are Chris Kouza and Joe Caradonna. The partners will open another Bar Verona in mid-October in Washington Township, while looking forward to coming downtown to Greektown next year.

Four Cheese Arancini

Bar Verona’s handsome exterior uses gray stone. The nicely landscaped building would look natural in the Italian countryside. The focal point inside is the bar, fronted by large copper tiles with a design and several TVs overhead. The neutral interior includes more gray stone and gray-patterned wallpaper in the dining room, and black-and-white photographs in a hallway. Then there’s the surprise of seeing colorful wallpaper featuring tiny angels and cherubs in restrooms.

The tagline for Bar Verona is “casual food & craft cocktails,” but also consider the extensive wine and beer list. Though usually not much for drinking, I decided on one of the seven craft cocktails. As the server promised, this combination of watermelon-infused rum, lime juice and cane sugar syrup was very refreshing.

Orecchiette

So, too, was my delicious melon salad, made with two kinds of melon, cucumber, pickled onion, ricotta salata, orange crumble and mint yogurt. Four more salads are available. The nine starters include antipasti, fried calamari and Fabio’s meatball.

I’m a soup person, no matter the weather. The house minestrone, chocked with beans and vegetables, includes extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and fresh parmesan cheese topping. I’ll order it again. There’s also a soup of the day.

Burrata Crostino

Besides the wonderful steak I described, roasted salmon, local whitefish and chicken marsala are among the menu’s six entrees. Bar Verona offers seven dishes with house-made pasta. My choice was orecchiette (resembling little ears), tossed with shrimp and asparagus in a lemon-butter sauce. Oh, that was good.

For dessert, I was encouraged to try the chef’s signature bomboloni (no-hole Italian doughnuts), served with dark chocolate and raspberry dipping sauces. As full as I was, I probably should have chosen from a list of four assorted gelatos and sorbets. Two more desserts are Cast-Iron “Cookies & Cream” and a tiramisu made with roasted white chocolate.

Some guests will appreciate Bar Verona’s nut-free environment. Everyone should like the friendly staff. There’s seating for up to 350, including 100 in a private dining room. Dinner only is offered, starting at 4 p.m. Closing time is 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Bar Verona
500 Loop Road
Commerce Township, MI 48390
Phone: (248) 387-5400
www.barverona.com
$$$ out of $$$$

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