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Tried Ottava Via for Detroit Restaurant Week...

boagman | Apr 14, 201409:34 PM

...and found it pretty good!

Now, it should be noted that their $20 price point for DRW is $10 below what all others are charging for it...and it should be. Portions are reduced (by their own admission) to some pretty skimpy portions, which explains how they can offer sea bass as an entree: it's a pretty small portion of fish, I'll say.

That being said, for the three courses, it wasn't bad! I started out with the soup they had, which, again: was a small portion. Had lots of nice veggies in there including all of the trendy ones you'd expect these days, but (and I told them this, and they reported that they'd heard it from others, too) it *needed* to be warmer, temperature-wise. When it arrived, it was already cooler than it should have been, and even though I ate it quickly (I was *hungry*, and it was pretty late for my dinner), by the time I was finished, it was basically cold, for soup that isn't a gazpacho. My cousin had the arancini, which he pronounced "okay".

My sea bass entree was decent, but really: I'd have rather paid more for a full serving than gotten this tiny little plate. It wasn't just small...it was *thin*, which is kind of a mistake when dealing with sea bass. You want that baby to be pretty thick, even if it's small in size. The marble potatoes, served underneath, could have been more plentiful, too. The thing was just too small. Tasty, but too small. A better option would have been to add $X for a bigger portion, but I'll get back to that later.

My cousin had the ragout bolognese, which I was kind of jealous of. I tried a bit of the ground and braised veal/pork mixture when it arrived, and was impressed. I wouldn't have wanted the dairy that came atop it, but the meat/sauce would have been very welcome to me, along with what I can assume was good pasta (not Giovanni's good, mind you, but certainly passable as a delivery system for the meat/sauce). This was definitely a more sizable portion than the sea bass that I had, and that was draw, too.

Having had my first two dishes, all that was left was the third course of chocolate gelato...and my lingering hunger. As I said, it was later in the day than when I normally eat, and I knew darned well that the gelato wasn't going to be able to satisfy my still-hungry system. I needed more actual *food*. Now, while this might kind of irritate me normally (no bread was served, by the way...), I had to factor in the price I was paying, too: only spending $20 here left me some options in adding something on which would make the $30 price point more realistic, too. It also gave me a bit of freedom to go off of the DRW menu onto the actual menu and order something completely different. I decided to do so.

I decided that their pork sandwich sounded pretty intriguing for $10. Not exactly a cheap beast, but I figured that it would fill me up for the remainder, and the gelato would be the capper.

Marvelous. Not quite in the same ethereal heights that the filet mignon sandwich from Jeremy in Keego Harbor is, but this bad boy's got *nothing* to hang its head about. Honestly, pound-for-pound, this may have been the best thing I ate there all night. Great flavors, textures, and ingredients. It doesn't just *look* good (but it *does* look good), it lives up to that appearance with its flavors! I guarantee I'll be going back for this thing alone. Completely devoured, with no real caveats I can think of. They've built a better pork sandwich here, kids. No lie.

The final course, of course, was chocolate gelato, and in all honesty: it falls flat. It's not bad...it was completely consumed by me and my cousin consumed his. There was nothing wrong with it as a finish for the meal, but if you're expecting anything remotely on par with what you'll receive at Pizzeria Biga/Bigalora or The Root, you *will* be disappointed, by a couple of steps. You'll still eat it, mind you, but in the back of your mind, you'll be thinking, "Nice try. Keep working at it."

The atmosphere is decently loud. I could have a conversation with my cousin, but he was the only person I could understand, and the tables were pretty close. I *really* like the room, and my cousin was into the very-non-Italian music they were playing. As you can imagine: it's a Hipster Haven. Service was quite good, and very accommodating considering that they were out of the one cocktail that I was pretty sure I would like, and wanted to order. When Choice #2 showed up and wasn't up to my probably-too-high standards, it wasn't a problem, which I appreciated. It also made it easier to order the sandwich later on, quite frankly. While the courses were definitely slower in coming than I'd have liked them to be, in *no* way were we hurried, rushed, or shown any kind of attitude for taking up a table (though we certainly came at the correct time). It was pretty leisurely, and I liked taking the time to look around the place and take in what they'd done with it. It's a pretty cool building, I must say.

Don't deny yourself that pork sandwich. It's truly something to behold. They just recently added it to the menu, and it appears that they took the time to get it *right*. It's not massive, but for lunch, it'd be enough, and it truly is a great example of how good a pork sandwich can be. No slouch, here.

Actually, don't deny yourself the place at all. Yes, it's hipster-riffic, and the DRW menu is probably offering too little for an actual *meal*, but with the price reduction, I don't find it unfair at all. Their service level is good, they have some good flavors to put on display, and I was very pleasantly surprised by that all-too-good pork sandwich for $10. Those that know how cheap I am know that $10 for a sandwich pushes my limits...but when it's worth it, it's worth it.

Oh, and *call ahead* to assure table availability. They don't normally take reservations, but they are during DRW, and it's a new thing to them. I got the impression that it hadn't exactly gone off without a hitch, but they're still a pretty new place, too. We called ahead and were told *exactly* what we needed to hear about table availability: the *truth*. When we arrived, the hostess remembered our phone conversation, and sure enough: a table was being cleared for us and we were seated in under five minutes. But do call first...they're going to be absolutely slammed all week.

Giovanni's,
Pizza Marvelous,
The Root Restaurant & Bar,
Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina
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