Monday, February 20, 2012

Tuscan Bistro

Slightly nautical, but all-the-way Italian, the Tuscan Bistro in Traverse City, MI is a grand place to nosh, but is often missed by visitors to the region.

Every town has its little hideaways. You walk into the place and you expect to see Al Capone perusing the headlines in the corner while a few other "family men" mix and mingle with the locals. It's the kind of place where the folks who know about it tell their favorite friends, but no one else. It's their's. It's the hometown restaurant that the hometown has made its own and it deserves its loyal clientele and comfortable aire. No matter who you are or what you do, when you enter the door, you're welcomed with a smile, great food and good drink. It's what a truly great restaurant should be.

Traverse City is blessed enough to have a few such restaurants. One such place is the Tuscan Bistro.

A comfortable atmosphere is on the menu at this Traverse City eatery featuring Northern Italian fare.

Situated at the base of the Leelanau Peninsula, just outside of downtown Traverse City, MI, and housed within a nondescript building on the opposite side of the road as the Bay, many visitors to the Grand Traverse Region miss this fantastic eatery. It truly is their loss.

Some wonderful reds and whites occupy the bar at Tuscan Bistro.

I'm going to dive right in here. The Tuscan Bistro is the home to Traverse City's Raw Bar, served every Friday and Saturday starting at 5PM. It features fresh oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels and more. Freaking delightful!

Tuscan Bistro also features an Early Bird Dinner every day of the week from 4PM-6PM. This includes a glass of wine, salad, entree and dessert, all for $25 per person. Quite the deal, believe me!

Everyone loves Tuscan Bistro's dive-man pull station!

The everyday menu is an outstanding mix of Italian specialties. Highlights from each section include:

Carpaccio Di Manzo (from the antipasti menu)- A raw filet of beef with lemon, arugula, shaved Parmigiano reggiano cheese and evoo for $12.

Ahi tuna and baby spinach salad (from the insalata menu) for $11.

Flank steak (from the panini menu, served only during lunch hours)- A marinated flank steak with gorgonzola, Portobello mushrooms and roasted red peppers, pressed in foccacia for $10.

Spaghetti fruti de mare (from the pasta menu)- Spaghetti tossed with shrimp, scallops, baby clams, mussels and squid in a light tomato broth. The half serving is $10, the full is $19.

Pesce Bianco Capponata (from the carne and pesce menu)- Sauteed Michigan Whitefish over sweet and sour eggplant relish with grilled asparagus for $19.

Wow, right? Each item on the menu is just as tasty as the next! And, with the most expensive item hitting only $20, you get a lovely surprise when the bill arrives to top it all off.

Behind this unassuming door is one of Traverse City's best kept secrets.

And, of course, as you can see from a few of the above pictures, Tuscan Bistro has a very nice bar scene as well, as any self respecting Italian joint would. From New Grist and Sam Adams in bottles (and many more of the usual suspects) to Stella Artois and Sierra Nevada on tap (and, again, more), beer folks are certain to find something that will please. For those of you that enjoy a bit more kick, the bar at Tuscan Bistro is quite deep! Perfect for an evening out with your favorite someone.

From the road, as you sail by on your way up the Leelanau Peninsula, it's easy to miss Tuscan Bistro. Don't. Miss it that is.

There certainly is a lot of variety in Traverse City's restaurants. From the mundane and boring to the truly exceptional, eating in Traverse City can be quite adventure! If you're in the mood for some truly outstanding fare, a comforting atmosphere and a pretty decent view to boot, then you, my friend, are in the mood for Tuscan Bistro, "An Italian Restaurant."

Yes, that's their tag line. Questions? Fuh-get about it.

(All Photos by Brooks Vanderbush)

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