Saturday, March 14, 2015

Francesco's Bistro

Years ago, there was a very good Italian Restaurant in Mid-Michigan called Terry and Jerry's O Sole Mio located in Bay City.  It was good enough to be recognized by the Mobil Travel Guide.  It was a family run place and they loved what they did.  After a time, the owner and chef decided that they wanted to retire and sold the place.  This unfortunately caused the quality to suffer and it eventually closed.  This brought those of us that had dined there several times to the realization that there really wasn't much in the way of good Italian restaurants in the area.  There were a few places around that served Italian food, but it seems that they were all aiming for the quality and authenticity of Olive Garden.  There have been several places that have been searched out by my family and all have disappointed.  Recently it has come to the attention of my family in Michigan that there might be a few places in the area that might serve good Italian food.  Both are in small towns in the surrounding area.  Unfortunately, one is only open for a few hours a week so we decided to try the other one for a recent family celebration.  Francesco's Bistro is located on the main road in a small town in mid-Michigan   It's a relatively large stand alone building that is fairly easy to find.  The dining room looks very much like any number of country restaurants, although it does have several Italian design elements.  The menu was very large, with many Italian classic selections plus pizza but we before we even ordered, we were presented with a loaf of Italian Bread with Olive Oil and Herbs.  The bread seemed very fresh and had a crusty outside and soft inside like a good, fresh bread.  This seemed t0 bode very well for the restaurant quality.  Our waitress was nice and friendly so we already knew that we had that covered.
The table then ordered several appetizers with the idea that the idea that the appetizers were individual sized.  We were mistaken.  The appetizers were enormous and served family style.  I ordered Fried Zucchini which was served with a Spicy Bistro Sauce which was a spicy mayonnaise.  The zucchini was crispy and juicy with, it seemed a little spice in the breading.  While I really liked it and I did share, I ended up with a lot more than what I expected.

The salad came next and while it was a good salad with fresh vegetables, other than the fresh ground Parmagiana Reggiano Cheese, it was your standard house salad with Iceberg Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onions, and Croutons.  It was a good size and the house vinaigrette was good, but it was really nothing to write about.

The entree, on the other hand was something to write about.  It was large, hearty, flavorful and very good.  I ordered the Seafood Cavatappi, with Shrimp, Scallops, Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers, and Applewood Smoked Bacon and a light cream sauce..  It also had fresh ground Parmagiano Reggiano on it.  Every bite was a taste explosion.  The spinach and res pepper added to the depth of flavor to the dish and while I wouldn't expect bacon in a seafood dish, it worked really well and added to the flavor.  There was also so much that I didn't finish and was unable to venture to dessert which featured several cheesecakes that looked really good. 

While Francesco's does not quite fill the large shoes left by Terry's and Jerry's, they are good in their own right and I would happily return.  I will however, keep in mind the serving sizes and plan accordingly so I can get dessert.    

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post! Jerry was my great uncle (grandma's brother). After he passed, Aunt Terry spent a lot of time in Carefree, AZ. I was attending Arizona State at the time, so I was able to enjoy quite a bit of time with her. While she still owned the restaurant at then, she did spend winters in Arizona. She had a fabulous team to oversee things in her absence.

    The one recipe I never thought to ask for was Uncle Jerry's garlic cheese toast/bread. The kids of the family all regret not having it!