You gotta give it up to Derek and Greg Stevens. They’ve taken one of the least-appealing Downtown casinos and transformed it into a clean, comfortable, totally hang-able spot. Every time I’ve visited the D, maybe a half-dozen nights this year, the casino’s been packed and the energy’s been high. The hotel rooms have been renovated with a sleek and simple design, there’s a friendly watering hole in the Long Bar, and the second-level casino has a throwback vibe complete with vintage gaming machines. (Some of them still use actual coins.) You can have fun here, not something many would say back when it was Fitzgeralds.
You can also eat at the D, which has augmented its Detroit theme with two familiar restaurant names from the Motor City—American Coney Island, a 24-hour hot dog joint, and the new Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Steakhouse, a hidden gem. Vicari has operated an army of restaurants all over the Metro Detroit area for more than two decades, and his Vegas outpost backs up a warm and hospitable reputation. It’s an Italian steakhouse, a can’t-miss concept for the tourist.
- Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Steakhouse
- The D, 388-2220.
- Daily, 5-11 p.m.
But I wonder if Downtown-curious locals will eat here. They should. There are cozy, old-school touches in the dining room like high-back booths and a roving dessert cart ready to tempt. (I recommend the decadent, extra-chocolaty take on a Kit Kat bar.) The servers wear white jackets. And the menu, stocked with steaks, seafood, pasta and veal, is priced a notch below Strip spots. The biggest, spendiest bite is a 32-ounce tomahawk ribeye ($69), impressive considering Andiamo’s beef is sourced from Pat LaFrieda and Stockyard Premium and butchering is done in-house. Terrific veal comes from Strauss in Wisconsin, and the dish named for original chef Aldo Ottaviani is easy, rustic and wonderful: pounded flat tenderloin cutlets with prosciutto, Fontina cheese and roasted tomatoes in a light and savory wine sauce ($36).
Start things off by sharing a satisfying, salty meatball in tomato sauce with ricotta cheese ($9) or a crab and lobster cocktail ($17) with avocado mousse and rich sauce Louis. Skip the minimal house salad, mostly lettuce and olive oil, in favor of a proper tableside Caesar ($14) or a chopped salad ($9) with lots of bacon and garlic-Parmesan dressing.
Order a steak and get a side of spaghetti in cheesy tomato sauce that reminds me of Scarpetta’s famously rich stuff. Going all out at Andiamo will leave you beyond stuffed. The portions are generous, the side dishes hit the spot (lobster and black truffle baked ziti, for example) and everything seems crowned with extra indulgence. This practice was epitomized by a special of Gorgonzola gnocchi with beef tenderloin tips, the best of both halves of the menu.
Andiamo could be a special occasion restaurant, or you could become a regular. Give it a shot—it’s easily one of the better dining experiences in our quickly changing Downtown.