Downtown Detroit, downtown to downtown, has seen a number of impressive new restaurant openings lately, from Prime + Proper, Lumen and Empire Kitchen to meatless coney island, Chili Mustard Onions . Now there is another competitor, Shewolf.
On the first floor of a small building on Selden just west of Cass, it has already attracted a lot of attention, not just for its name, which harkens back to Rome’s origins, but with the impressive CV of chef/owner Anthony Lombardo, who did his research at the source in Italy.
Another Italian restaurant, you ask me? On the one hand, this one offers a range of pastas made with house-ground flour, and on top of that, unfamiliar local dishes like roast Mediterranean sea bass presented head and all, accompanied by a superior wine list that is mostly Italian and includes many champagnes, even in magnums. I can only conclude that Shewolf awaits many celebrations.
There is also a $65 steak. Expensive? Yes.
The setting is contemporary and welcoming, centered around an open plan kitchen that spans the far wall, with windows overlooking the covered patio and the street scene in front. It was designed by Ron Rea.
The menu is a la carte, but designed to encourage ordering three courses: appetizer, pasta and main course and all are listed in Italian with English descriptions. The only exception to this rule is soup. It’s currently Italian Divorce Soup, a spicy version of Italian Wedding Soup, pork meatballs and eggs in broth.
Pasta portions are divided into sides rather than main courses. They include a delicious Amatriciana with tomatoes and cured pork jowl, and it was my favorite of the two pasta dishes sampled. The other was caio e pepe, literally pecorino cheese and pepper, classically simple and satisfying. Freshly made durum wheat and egg pasta have more weight than dried pasta.
The grilled lamb rib and scallop entrees weren’t as impressive as the roasted whole sea bass, tender and flaky and easy to pull off the bone.
The service is very knowledgeable and helpful and shows the extensive training the staff received before Lombardo opened the restaurant a few months ago.
Shewolf is a very professional production.
438 Selden, Detroit
Rating: 3 stars
Hours: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday 5 p.m. to midnight Friday Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers $6-$42, pasta $16-$26, appetizers $26-$65, salads $9, desserts $9-$13.
Credit card: All adults
Alcohol: Full bar and extensive wine list
Noise level: Moderate to high
Car park: Street and adjacent land unsupervised
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What do the grades mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding