Throughout the year, Restaurant Editor Bill Addison will travel the country to chronicle what's happening in America's dining scene and to formulate his list of the essential 38 restaurants in America. Follow his progress in this travelogue/review series, The Road to the 38, and check back at the end of the year to find out which restaurants made the cut.
Driving the ten miles on Woodward Avenue from Detroit's downtown toward Ferndale in the northern suburbs lays bare the city in all its disparities. The road leads past the glittery Fox Theatre (with its eight-story marquee flanked by winged lions), Comerica Park where the Tigers roam on their home turf, and the Detroit Institute of Arts that houses its collections in a palatial Italian Renaissance building. Along the street one also glimpses derelict blocks, empty apartment buildings, and poignant markers like "St. Curvy," an abandoned turreted church nicknamed by long-ago parishioners for its winding balcony.
The ride can stir up a blur of emotions. But after dining at Ferndale's destination restaurant, it's easy to feel hopeful for what's next. Torino is an unlikely stage for some of the country's most promising culinary talent. It sits at the bottom of a condo building and opened as an espresso and cocktail bar in 2011. In January 2013 Torino owner Noah Dorfman was introduced to Garrett Lipar, a native of nearby Waterford Township and a young chef with serious wanderlust. Not yet 25 at the time, he'd already powered through positions at New York's Public, Chicago's Boka, and Frantzen in Stockholm, and staged at many other star-chasers, Alinea among them. Along the way, he'd been indoctrinated into the creeds of tasting menus and modernist techniques.