We have been making frequent trips lately to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan and taking this opportunity to visit some of the local restaurants and coffee shops in the area. Zingerman’s on Plaza Drive, where several shops are located, is a fun place to visit. Zingerman’s Bakehouse for that hard-to-find bread; Zingerman’s Coffee Company for a freshly brewed coffee; and, for a treat, a stop at Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory and Creamery. And of course, our favorite restaurant in the area, Cantoro Trattoria in Plymouth. This time we had no reservations, which at most times is a requirement, but we were seated quickly in the bar area beside a fireplace, a perfect location. Our server was a pleasant young woman who gladly conversed with the chef to answer our questions about the menu. One of our frequently ordered appetizers is their calamari. Not deep fried, coated in some strange, breaded mixture, Cantoro’s grilled calamari has just the right ingredients to bring out the taste. While enjoying our main course, I was seated near where the waitstaff would pick up their plated orders from a folding tray stand stacked high with serving trays. Between this serving table and a big, framed wall opening where the kitchen staff prepared the food stood a man dressed in the standard white restaurant uniform. From the counter (the “pass”) filled with plates and bowls of Italian cuisine he would quickly glance at a meal order and assemble dishes on the top serving tray, occasionally wiping the plate edges for a flawless presentation. I was curious about this fellow and called over a staff member who introduced himself as the General Manager, Alex. Even with Cantoro’s busy lunch crowd, Alex took the time to explain that the fellow between the pass and the serving table was Cantoro’s food “expediter,” an important (and well-paid) position within a restaurant’s hierarchy. We also learned a little about the Cantoro family and thanked Alex for his time and told him how we enjoyed our past visits to Cantoro Trattoria. As we were preparing to order dessert we were told by our server that Alex was treating us to a complimentary dessert. Our long drive back to East Lansing was made a bit more relaxing remembering the good food and service at Cantoro Trattoria.
Vern Mesler 2023