Fellow patio lovers, rejoice, because today we’re talking about La Dolce Vita in Detroit and its supreme example of terrace living!
Touting itself as “Detroit’s best-kept secret,” the Italian restaurant on Woodward Avenue north of McNichols with a nondescript brown-brick exterior that’s all blink-and-you-might-miss it (and I did initially) is indeed hiding a Secret Garden-esque oasis around back.
Beyond its rear parking lot and valet-only parking ($5) beckons this gorgeous gated patio with its gurgling fountain, stately trees, walls thick with ivy, and vibrant flowers. It’s lovely. Sitting on La Dolce Vita’s patio made me feel like I was on vacation in Europe rather than off a gritty stretch of Woodward.
Partly because of this exceptional ambiance and partly because of the prices, I’d categorize La Dolce Vita as an upscale establishment. While costs aren’t shockingly high, they are more robust than those of the typical area Italian restaurant (side soups and salads are à la carte, for instance).
The restaurant also appeared to attract a particular category of clientele: older folks with money. I marveled as wave after wave of chicly dressed sixty-plus-year-olds crossed its threshold. They weren’t the only ones frequenting the restaurant; there were younger people, more casually dressed people, families – but they appeared to be the prime demographic on this Saturday night.
Overall, the place was kicking; the patio was full the whole time my friend and I were there (we were lucky to get the lone open table outside upon our arrival), and the interior of the restaurant filled over the course of our visit.
And you don’t have to be of a certain age or financial status to enjoy La Dolce Vita, my friend and I found. We basked in the glory of dining alfresco on a warm summer’s night, sipping wine and enjoying rich, flavorful fare. I deemed delicious both the minestrone soup with its chunky vegetables and the veal saltimbocca (Medaglioni D Vitello Saltimbocca on the menu) with its fresh sage, prosciutto, and rich wine butter sauce.
While I visited La Dolce Vita at dinner, I’d love to return for its Sunday brunch, which according to its website features bottomless servings of mimosas and Bloody Marys, a band playing patioside, and a wear-pajamas theme (!) the second Sunday of each month. That patio plus patrons in nightshirts and fuzzy slippers guzzling bottomless mimosas? Now THAT I gotta see!
17546 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48203