Casa Pernoi Blends Casual Dining with High-End Flavors

By: Karen Dybis | October 23, 2020

Photo Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

There are times when you are searching for a restaurant where you want refined, well-crafted food and drinks. Other times, you may want to mingle in a laid-back atmosphere that allows for a more relaxed conversation. That place is Casa Pernoi.

How can Casa Pernoi be both things at once? Well, it’s a work in progress, but what a delicious experiment. The words that Casa Pernoi uses to describe its dishes as well as its vibe are telling: Exquisite and elegant yet also familiar and casual.

Once, perhaps in previous generations or even before coronavirus, people felt these two different moods had to be separated. Now, Metro Detroit as well as the rest of the world understands that you can eat well and still have a blue-jean attitude. 

Hard to believe that the addition of one word – in this case, Casa – to the otherwise fine-dining experience known as Pernoi could change a place so much. But that rebrand, which happened in June, reflects not only chef Luciano DelSignore’s approach to the Birmingham-based restaurant but also the moment the region, state and county at large is having. 

Who could have predicted that carry-out meals would become an act of support for restaurants? It would have surprised anyone that family-style meals at home or patio dining would become the norm in 2020, but the pandemic has upended most traditions – including formal meals. The Detroit Free Press once described the former Pernoi as “super high end,” so its embrace of a more casual attitude seems like a pivot we all can embrace.

Yet the food remains the focus at this newly homestyle restaurant. Somehow, diving into Casa Pernoi’s beautiful Ricotta Ravioli or beloved Charred Octopus while hanging out with friends or as a romantic outdoor date makes a kind of sense. Meals are made as much by a restaurant’s atmosphere and how the food appeals to the eye as they are by the flavors. Luckily for diners, Casa Pernoi offers both. 

Chef DelSignore is highlighting the things he loves, such as sharing bread or dining in a way that creates memories. He wants to encourage families and friends eating together with his signature dishes as the centerpiece to focus on the sensory aspects of the food. Consider the crust. Focus on the caramelization and the effort the chef put into that moment. Think about the luscious chocolate, not the calories, when devouring dessert. 

The chef also added more small plates to the menu, giving people a chance to taste fine flavors and sample more of his creations. There’s such for the carnivore – think beef carpaccio – as much as for the vegetarian. Add a sparking glass of wine, and you have a menu that shows off Casa Pernoi’s slavish attention to ingredients as much as its presentation. 

Also, there are additional comfort foods to consider when making your choice for lunch or dinner. Maybe you want something tender and presented simply – then, the veal parmigiana is the right thing to select. There’s skewers of lamb, grilling outside and creating a scent sensation that may have you thinking of home and great barbecue meals. 

Whether you’re craving the salty, briny tastes from an antipasti or something more hearty like a tagliatelle Bolognese, slowly simmered for hours to develop all of its potential, then Casa Pernoi has something to say about eating slowly, thinking about each bite and encouraging you to embrace a more casual style of dining. So ditch the button-down shirts and grab the kids. The bread basket is there, waiting on the table, for everyone to enjoy.