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Coastal Italian Continues to Take Hold in Metro Detroit With Aurora Italiana

Escape to the island of Capri without leaving Oakland County

A rendering of a dining room with gray and teal seating, sparkly chandeliers, and teal and coral drapes at Aurora Italiana in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Prime Concepts Detroit
Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

The Coastal Italian trend is continuing to infiltrate metro Detroit’s dining scene with the spring opening of Aurora Italiana, which aims to draw inspiration from Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

Barbat Holdings’s hospitality arm, Prime Concepts Detroit Brands, is in the midst of renovating an 8,500-square-foot space in West Bloomfield that was formerly housed in another, now-shuttered Italian eatery at 6199 Orchard Lake Rd. The place will feature commissioned artwork with a modern atmosphere and food influenced by the flavors of the island of Capri like a caprese salad made with burrata, cacio e pepe, and whole fish flown in daily from the Mediterranean.

The establishment’s interior is being designed by Royal Oak-based Art Harrison Interiors, which designed Prime Concepts’ other restaurants' interior designs. Diners might be familiar with Prime Concepts’s other restaurant properties, including Prime29 Steakhouse, Pao Detroit downtown, Nara Sushi & Hibachi Lounge in West Bloomfield, Tribu Mediterranean in Bloomfield Hills, and Wabeek Club in Bloomfield Township. The kitchen will be run by the staff of the hospitality group.

“We’re very excited to bring Aurora Italiana to the metro Detroit dining scene,” said Joe Barbat, chairman and CEO of Barbat Holdings, in a written statement distributed Tuesday. “Our guests are going to be amazed by this upscale dining experience, paired with stunning and unique decor, exceptional entertainment, and, of course, our shareable moments. We want to provide an unforgettable experience that is high-energy and memorable for all.”

Earlier this year, the restaurant group purchased the Grand Army of the Republic Building — the 1899-constructed castle downtown that used to be occupied by Republica and Parks & Rec Diner — and is expected to announce plans for a steakhouse to take over the first and second floors of the building.

Tuesday’s announcement is just the latest in the Coastal Italian dining trend that is taking hold across the country. The concept is a departure from the many American Italian red sauce restaurants that dot the landscape. Instead Coastal Italian — also commonly described as coastal Mediterranean or “Italian riviera” — leans heavily on serving fresh seafood, using soft colors like ocean blue or coral in the decor, and these destinations tend to attempt to evoke luxury vacation vibes. Other establishments that have embraced elements of the genre in metro Detroit include San Morello, which opened downtown in 2018, Eater Award winner Oak and Reel in Milwaukee Junction, and Mad Nice in Midtown.

In the coming weeks, Dearborn will also welcome a halal rendition of the cuisine with Tiliani (derived from Arabic for “Italian”), a project of chef Hisham Diab — who worked under chef Jared Gadbaw when at the Michelin-starred restaurant Marea in New York. Gadbaw currently runs Oak and Reel.