Ottava Via: what a delight! This restaurant exceeded my expectations, presenting an immensely enjoyable dining experience.
I didn’t hold much in the way of expectations around Ottava Via prior to going there because I didn’t know much about it. Here’s what I knew: it served Italian, was located in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, and a friend of mine had once snatched a barely-eaten appetizer off an abandoned table there and eaten it (apparently it was too enticing to pass up!). AND it was on my collected list of places to visit, so I’d likely read something good about it at some point. With that background information in mind, I recruited a pal for a dinnertime visit and motored down to Michigan Avenue.
Pulling up to the restaurant’s storefront, I realized I’d passed its nondescript black-and-white sign quite a few times. I also realized its demure appearance belies the glory that resides just behind it.
Pulling around to the rear of Ottava Via to park, I saw this gorgeous gated patio with pots of flowers, strings of twinkle lights, and wooden communal tables. A fire burned in a brick fireplace, and adjacent to the patio was a bocce court where guests could play the traditional Italian game. It was a hidden paradise!
There was no way my friend and I weren’t sitting in that garden enclave, especially during the last dregs of the warm-weather season. We plopped down at one of those communal tables and soaked up the pleasant patio-side vibes.
I perused Ottava Via’s menu and was quickly sold on the Ragout Alla Bolognese with its veal- and pork-infused sauce, though several of the small-plate and pizza options intrigued me, including the prosciutto- and cheese-stuffed fried Arancini balls and two of my fave Italian classics, Caprese salad and Margherita pizza. My friend ordered the Artichoke pizza with its namesake veggie, pecorino cheese, garlic, lemon zest, and a spinach pesto sauce.
The meals came out promptly, and I was pumped to dig into the Ragout Alla Bolognese with its thick pappardelle egg noodles, meaty sauce, and dollops of fresh ricotta.
Dug in I did, to discover that the dish was delicious. The sauce was rich, the ricotta was creamy, the noodles were wonderfully fresh and flavorful. I enjoyed those house-made pappardelle noodles in that Ragout Alla Bolognese as much as I did the sauce, which surprised me. I guess I’m used to eating dried pasta that tastes more like the cardboard box it came in than a from-scratch culinary staple with a rich tradition. Ottava Via’s pappardelle pasta definitely tastes like the latter; it’s a prime component of the Ragout Alla Bolognese rather than simply a vessel for the sauce.
My friend raved about her pizza with its chunks of artichokes and pesto sauce, and it looked so appealing that I had to try a bite of it; it was tasty, and I would have loved to scarf the whole of it myself.
To drink wine and eat pizza and pasta while dining alfresco and enjoying good company: is there anything better than that? In the scheme of life, it’s a simple experience, and yet the unadulterated pleasure it offers makes it a magical one – especially when dining at a place that offers as much in the way of cuisine and ambiance as Ottava Via does.
1400 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, MI 48216