The Best of Everything
10 p.m.; Saturdays, 5-10 p.m.; Sundays
open for private parties only.
Driving down 10 Mile back in the
1970s, Rina and Adriano saw the lit-
tle house they were told was like
those in Italy ... full of wild
grapevines ... To say it was love at
first sight would be putting it mildly.
Rina and Adrian now have eight
medallions flash seared in herb lemon
become one of the highest
he great list of
of grapevines on the proper-
butter, white wine and long-stemmed
their Cafe Cortina has
artichokes ... Sauteed boneless chicken
restaurants in the Midwest
excellence far and beyond
medallions with slow roasted herbed
is the result of an unwaver-
Detroit and suburbs
expectations ... As the
tomatoes, Tokai wine and imported
ing devotion of love.
began to slowly wither away
evolved into the
The love shared by Rina
years back ... leaving only fond
and Adriano seemed to
memories of their existences.
wine and Sicilian figs.
ooze out into the hearts of
he or she
Metropolitan Detroit might
Fish and seafood entrees like
their ever-increasing list of
have been a gastronomical
Newfoundland salmon with a delicate
desert if not for restaurants like
dill and roasted fennel sauce ... The
Today, an excellent tradi-
Lark, Tribute, Whitney and a
believe ... The trick was in realizing
Local Columnist tion of culinary excellence is much-desired true Mediterranean dish
handful of others who still exist.
that the delights being eaten were
very capably carried on by
Among them, too, is one
actually impersonations of favored
Rina and their son, Adrian ... who
whose dedication to consistency and
signature dishes served at four of
olive sauce ... Scampi Cortina, large
have steadily watched it climb to the
its achievement has rarely been
imported prawns grilled and finished in New York's better restaurants.
lofty perch it now enjoys.
equaled ... and is still without too
The recent theme dinner by stu-
lemon butter, white wine and herbs.
He came on board in 1995 to help
much closeness to its par.
in the Culinary Studies
Also superb offerings of pasta dishes
Rina ... and has fine-tuned its existence
When Rina and Adrian() Tonon
at Oakland Community
... and a very fine wine assortment.
with an even greater dignity.
opened Cafe Cortina on 10 Mile just
College, Orchard Ridge Campus in
Adrian's arrival on the scene was
east of Orchard Lake Road in
Farmington Hills held the challenge.
restaurateur ... After coming to help
with a mission ... for the restaurant
Farmington Hills ... in December of
To say the chefs of tomorrow came
Rina, he went to Venice, Italy, and
to be recognized nationally and to
1976, it was the achievement of a
with flying colors wouldn't be
served a chefing apprenticeship at the
carry on an exalted tradition in fur-
... If the inspirational chefs
dream for them.
five-star Cipriani Hotel ... where he
thering the dream of his mom and
The little garden, too, in back of
Cirque (Dan Boulud),
exciteTlly called Rina one time to tell
their new restaurant ... It was the
and Grill (Alfred
her that he cooked for Elizabeth Taylor
Adriano would be mighty proud of
idea of her mother, Tina, who with
Square Cafe (Mike
... "What did she have?" asked Rina
Adrian ... just like Rina is.
her husband, Gaetano Bisilico, had a
Romano) and Mercer's Kitchen (Pat
Two years after Adrian, in 1997, came
garden years back next door to their
Coston) had been at the dinner they
His hotel and restaurant institution-
Chef Jeffrey Hoffa, graduate of the
might have looked wide-eyed, too ...
Rina's Pizzeria on Schaefer in
al management training at Michigan
Culinary Institute of America ... and
as did numerous attendees who have
State University has also given Adrian
Tina came to their Cafe
eaten at these fine restaurants in
a keen business insight and full cus-
Cortina restaurant and put in
torller-satisfaction prowess in elegant
of sea bass roasted with
the basil and tomatoes ...
fopd and service.
shrimp mousseline, Le Cirque; roast
which they still have ... and
!It is nice to see the mutual respect
veal loin with mushroom chevre,
then Adriano took over,
between Rina and Adrian and their
Union Square Cafe; the excellent
planting red cabbage, bell
very cordial and efficient waitstaff
Gotham Bar and Grill salad with a
peppers, zucchini, celery and
in tuxedo garb, with white jackets
lemon basil vinaigrette, plus its roast
other favorite Italian herbs
worn by assistants.
duck consomme with turnips and
and vegetables ... It was his
Four servers have been at Cafe
roasted parsnip ravioli; and milk
pride and joy.
Cortina 20-25 years each ... watching
chocolate bananas mousse box of
Back in Italy, they ate
the restaurant achieve high notes with
amaretto ice cream and caramelized
what they grew ... and with
awards from DiRoNA (Distinguished
bananas from Mercer's Kitchen.
the garden, Cafe Cortina
Restaurants of North America), Wine
Small wonder that so many like
could honestly say,
Spectator and Restaurant Hospitality
Southfield mayoral candi-
"Homemade with home-
magazines, Zagat.'s- Best Restaurants of
Wiser, 17-year member of
America, the Magazine of La Cucina
Cafe Cortina's Adrian Tonon and his mother,
board of commis-
There are beautiful flowers
Italiana, Bon Appetit,
sioners, beamed with pride.
in the garden, too ... This is
been recognized by the TV Food
The bread and pastries made by the
Rina's pleasure ... Lilacs, her
Network as one of she best fine dining
in the school bakery are
first and favorite, sunflowers,
Italian restaurants in America.
formerly of Detroit's Rattlesnake Club
good, too ... In fact,
roses, peonies, tulips, etc.
The much-requested desire for
in Detroit ... He, Rina and Adrian col-
Adriano passed on in 1993 ... but
few places anywhere
some of Cafe Cortina's sauces to be
laborate on the menu item selections
not before his and Rina's Cafe Cortina
put in jars and sold nationally is a
that have resulted in a bevy of magnifi-
From Shirlee and
was on the road to becoming a very
popular program put together with
cent dishes ... so many, too, that are not
highly regarded Italian restaurant
Adrian's trained expertise.
seen elsewhere in this region.
Tzviah and Elena being in Israel all
whose upscale fine dining assets were
Filet mignon in a brandy and pep-
these years, we hang onto the news
being noted with regularity.
... plus 40 on a private outdoor patio ...
percorn sauce, with fresh oyster and
worry about them. But both are
That their Cafe Cortina has
It is open Mondays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-
shitake mushrooms ... Provimi veal
World Class Cuisine
Cafe Cortina is among the Midwest leaders in Italian culinary excellence.