Chef Andrew Carmellini plans to open Italian-American restaurant San Morello Tuesday at the Shinola Hotel.
By Cassie Kunze
Destined to become a chef, Cleveland native Andrew Carmellini began cooking at the age of 14 and by 19, he moved to New York and found himself working as a personal chef to New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. After working for several successful restaurants throughout the ‘90s, Carmellini, 47, started his business in 2008 and has since opened 14 restaurants around the country. His latest project, San Morello, is his first in Detroit.
San Morello’s grand opening is Tuesday night at the Shinola Hotel on Woodward Avenue and Grand River and will be open for dinner in December. The Italian restaurant will add brunch and lunch to its menu in 2019.
One partner, Josh Pickard, 59, is a Huntington Woods native and has been pushing for Carmellini to open a restaurant in Detroit for years. When Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis approached Carmellini about the Shinola Hotel opportunity, Carmellini says he thought this venture was the right time to make his Detroit debut. He brought his entire team to work on the project, seven of which have moved to Detroit, including his head operating chef Cory Barberio, who recently bought a house in Royal Oak.
With San Morello as the anchor restaurant, Carmellini’s team is also managing the food offered throughout the hotel, from room service to events catering. When asked about the inspiration behind San Morello, Carmellini says he has cooked Italian food his entire life, including a stint cooking in Italy.
He explains San Morello is an amalgamation of recipes he learned while cooking in Italy and the Shinola brand. Carmellini says he wanted San Morello to have an identity on its own while incorporating the American craftsman brand of the Shinola Hotel opening soon.
He describes the cuisine as “the Italian-American food you grew up with,” with lots of vibrancy, chili flakes and herbs. The menu offers rich, Southern Italian dishes complete with handmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas and his personal favorite “Carmellini’s lamb meatballs.”
He says he has a world-class team in Detroit who believes in this project and has enjoyed seeing the vision come to fruition. Although this is Carmellini’s first venture in Detroit, it won’t be his last, as he has plans to open a beer garden restaurant called The Brakeman in the spring.
1400 Woodward Ave., Detroit
Make a reservation at sevenrooms.com/reservations/sanmorello.