Italian indulgence at Tosi’s

Published 8:32 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tosi’s Restaurant offers traditional Italian dishes as well as contemporary fare. Photo by Jennifer Piotter


Blue Star Highway

A southwest Michigan benchmark for delectable Italian fare and first-rate service for more than 60 years, Tosi’s Restaurant in Stevensville rarely disappoints.

This was again the case when I visited on a recent Monday night with a couple members of the Blue Star Highway team.

One of my favorite things about Tosi’s is its Florentine room, which you see upon entering the restaurant. Grape vines dangle from a trellis over the dining room and the east wall features a stunning, luminescent landscape of the Italian city of Florence.

This is also where Tosi’s mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas are created. You can watch as a cook prepares a variety of pizzas with Mediterranean ingredients.

Though the Florentine room was closed on our visit, we were lucky to score a table between a view into the kitchen, where we could see plates ready for serving, and the fireplace. Italian farm country decor added to the comfort of our surroundings.

As I think any true Italian restaurant should do, our dinner began with a basket of Italian bread and focaccia along with plates of fruity olive oil and fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (the undisputed king of cheeses).

Looking at the menu, what I found impressive was the mix of traditional Italian dishes with more contemporary offerings.

“Our goal is to keep up with the demands of the community with new menu items, gluten-free meals and, at the same time, continue to keep our old favorites on the menu,” said general manager Marge Wiatrowski.

And, though you might think of Tosi’s as a special occasion restaurant, a number of nightly specials and a “Hot Picks” menu helps keep a nice night out within most everyone’s budget.

For the entrees, two of my colleagues both ordered from the “Hot Picks” menu, choosing the citrus-marinated broiled tilapia served with a lemon-caper butter sauce — traditional in many Italian dishes. Our server happily indulged their request to substitute the roasted potatoes with sauteed spinach.

Based on a collaboration of my tastes and the server’s recommendations, I opted for the Amatriciana, a classic Roman dish comprised of penne pasta, tomato, garlic, white wine, Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Tyler DeJong remarked that his dish was very good, adding, “Whatever this pesto sauce is, it’s excellent.”

My meal arrived in a giant bowl — thankfully I was able to resist devouring it all so I could walk away with leftovers. Topping the dish with more fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano gave the subtly spicy sauce a rich creaminess.

Throughout our meal, the service was attentive, but not at all interruptive. Our water glasses were always full, and the house manager even stopped by our table (and all the others) to check on the progression of our meal.

The desserts, while not particularly Italian, were enticing. I tried the luscious and rich creme brulee, but was also drawn to the trio of mousses and a decadent, multiple-layer chocolate cake.

Tosi’s is a great place to come for appetizers and drinks, a celebration, a simple night out or even an afternoon wedding in the garden. The cozy but elegant atmosphere and outstanding service make it a southwest Michigan dining destination well worth frequenting.

Wiatrowski described the experience perfectly: “Over the years, the look of the restaurant may have changed, but we still run the restaurant the way Mr. Tosi did — with the finest basic ingredients, prepared and served efficiently and in a pleasant atmosphere.”

Tosi’s Restaurant is located at 4337 Ridge Rd., Stevensville. It is open Monday through Saturday at 5 p.m.; kitchen is open at 5:30 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call (269) 429-3689 or visit