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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Trattoria di' Stagione: A Review

By Steve Siciliano

Bombay Cuisine owner Balwinder Bal clearly has had some difficulty in getting another business to take root in the space adjoining his popular Eastown eatery. Bal had previously operated a sports bar in the adjacent location and he followed up that venture with a restaurant that focused on southern American comfort food. Bal’s third attempt might just prove to be the charm as he has now partnered with former Tuscan Express chef/owner Dan Chudik to open Trattoria di’ Stagione, a restaurant that is offering some of the finest Italian cuisine in the Grand Rapids area.

Just as he did at Tuscan Express, Chudik makes the pastas and sauces for Trattoria di’ Stagione from scratch and he is using only fresh, local ingredients in the preparation of the restaurant’s seasonal Italian dishes. Barb and I have been so impressed with Chudik’s culinary talents that we have visited the trattoria three times since its May opening.

On one of those visits we began our meals with a breadcrumb stuffed, oven roasted artichoke—a traditional Sicilian dish that I have never seen outside my mother’s kitchen. On another we opted for a more ubiquitous Italian restaurant appetizer, but rather than being deep fried and accompanied with a side of red sauce, the pieces of calamari were lightly sautéed in olive oil with tomatoes, chilies and lemon and were served with chunks of fresh avocado.

The trattoria’s entrees have been just as innovative and just as expertly prepared—linguine with clams (Manila clams, white wine, garlic, chilies, parsley), pappardelle (with roasted mushrooms and fresh asparagus) ravioli (stuffed with porcini mushrooms and covered with a mushroom cream sauce) and a gnocchi dish that rivaled my Italian grandmother’s.

Dan Chudik is proving once again that having a surname that ends in a vowel isn’t a prerequisite to cook innovative and outstanding Italian cuisine. Because that cuisine is being combined with a professional wait staff and a small but affordable wine list, I have a feeling that Trattoria di’ Stagione will be a part of the Grand Rapids restaurant scene for many years to come.

Trattoria di' Stagione is located at 1420 Lake Drive in Eastown, Grand Rapids. Visit their website or Facebook page for hours of operation and other useful information.

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