In a neighborhood settled by European immigrants, Ottava Via brings a little of the Old World to Detroit’s Corktown.
The atmosphere of this dimly lit Italian restaurant reminded me of the ristorantes I patronized in Rome, and its Neapolitan-style pizza brought back memories of dining in Venice.
I particularly noticed European influences in the communal dining, which dates back to the French Revolution and is still common at German biergartens, and the glass water bottles, which I discovered cost about the same amount as a carafe of house wine in Italy, but are thankfully complimentary in American eateries such as Ottava Via.
As I sat at a large round table at the back of the open dining room with my friends, Katie and Curtis, on a Friday night in late January, I actually felt like we were sipping our wines and martinis while traveling somewhere far away. Instead, we were less than 10 miles outside my hometown, celebrating Katie’s birthday, chatting about upcoming travel plans and amping ourselves up for a night of fowling.
This was my first dining experience in Corktown in at least five years, having previously eaten at Slows Bar B Q, about a half mile down Michigan Avenue from Ottava Via. This historic Detroit neighborhood hosted the Detroit Tigers and their fans from 1912 until 1999, when the major league team moved to downtown’s Comerica Park. After the legendary Tiger Stadium was shuttered and eventually demolished, I, like many other metro Detroiters, wondered what would become of the neighborhood.
In the past few years, development has revitalized Corktown. Cafes, gastropubs and bars have opened their doors, and Detroit’s foodies have taken notice. In 2013, Ottava Via joined Mudgie’s Deli, St. CeCe’s Pub, Mercury Burger & Bar, Astro Coffee and Bill Murray in Corktown’s restaurant revolution. And it’s the tastiest revolution I’ve witnessed.
Ottava Via: The Food
Ottava Via’s paper menu, which also serves as the diner’s placemat, features a variety of small plates, thin-crust pizzas, salads, panini sandwiches and pastas. Katie and Curtis had previously dined here, so Katie recommended we share some of the small plates and a pizza.
We started our delicious meal with melted pecorino cheese served with crispy bread, pear slices and honey. It was heavenly. If you like cheese, definitely order this dish.
The following small plate — garlic shrimp — was beyond wonderful. Is there a word for that yet? As long as this dish remains on Ottava Via’s menu, I will be ordering it. You should, too!
Our soft thin crust pizza was topped with green bell and banana peppers, red onion and a sweet Italian sausage. Other pizzas included the Fungi, which is topped with mushrooms, and a quattro formaggi (four cheese) pie that sounds scrumptious.
The night we dined at Ottava Via one of the specials was the beautifully plated Chilean sea bass dish pictured above. When Curtis offered me a bite, I had to do a taste test for the sake of this blog, of course. It was simply mouthwatering. Overall, all the food tasted delicious.
Ottava Via: The Drinks
The focal point of the Ottava Via dining room is a beautifully detailed dark wood bar, where classic cocktails with a Detroit-spin — like the Michigan Ave Manhattan — and a nice selection of wines are poured. During my visit, I opted for a Darkhorse Cabernet Sauvignon — nothing fancy, but a fruit-forward California red that stood up to the flavorful meal.
Things To Know Before You Dine At Ottava Via
- Location: 1400 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
- Street parking is available along Michigan Avenue, and there are attended parking lots in the area around the restaurant. The attended lots cost a few dollars.
- Call 313-962-5500 to be placed on the list for a table
- Romantic ambiance and shareable dishes — doesn’t this sound perfect for date night?
- Variety of vegetarian dishes
If you have dined at Ottava Via, what was your experience like? Tell me about it by leaving a comment below.