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Lorenzo‘s: Harbor Springs‘ New Italian Dining Destination

Sandy Bradshaw - September 2nd, 2004
Set next to lush green pastures of horses grazing and surrounded by crisply white painted fences just four miles north of Harbor Springs is a fabulous new find. Lorenzo’s Casual Fine Italian Dining is truly a destination both for its casual yet sophisticated setting and for fabulous food that’s lovingly prepared and exquisitely presented.
“We have an upscale look – our food is presented in such a way,” said executive chef Tom Holt. “But we want to be known as casual fine dining. We want people to know they can come dressed as they are.”
And sure enough, some diners wore suits and dresses, others wore shorts, and despite the beautiful surroundings, the staff is as unpretentious and doting as can be. Attention to detail is more than apparent – the food matches the décor’s elegance in its own distinct personality. Two fireplaces for cool northern nights, elegant black-and-white tiled floors and lovely oil paintings – some old world Italian - and many with horses as subject makes the place feel like home.

A WHO’S WHO
Lorenzo’s opened in May of this year. Owned by Larry and Nancy Beck of Harbor Springs, they kept Holt on after closing the Carriage House and reforming it into a restaurant to offer superb Italian fare. Holt took to his new head chef position, the new menu and design with gusto. Along with him John Kilborn was kept on and serves as general manager. Their excitement and love of the restaurant shows in every respect. “It was six months in the making – in remodeling the former restaurant – and in detail to the menu. We wanted to offer Harbor Springs a special kind of Italian place,” said Holt. According to our first, and certainly not last visit, they have succeeded.
“We make everything in house,” Holt explained with a hint of pride in his voice. And what is not made in the kitchen they either grow on their nearby farm or find the best purveyors to purchase from. Currently all produce comes from Detroit’s Eastern Market. “We only want the freshest,” said Holt.
Lorenzo’s plans on raising all their own organic vegetables soon. They already grow their own herbs and edible flowers. “Every plate we serve has edible flowers,”
Holt said.
Another plan already in the works – and they already have 60 plus head of cattle – is serving their own family-raised beef. “Raised to the highest of industry standards – Black Angus,” explained Holt. “That is the highest standard in the industry.”
A large, tantalizing menu made it a bit difficult to order. Antipasto “appetizer” items include Formaggio Di Lorenza at $8 – Fresh Mozzarella wrapped in Prosciutto and fresh Basil leaves, lightly breaded and fried golden brown, with roasted Tomato vinaigrette; Asparagus Fritti at $8 – crispy asparagus, lightly breaded and fried “to perfection” and served with shaved parmesan and lemon oil.

EGGPLANT PARMESAN
My brother-in-law Bill and I were attended to by our waitress Karen. She said the Melanza Di Funghi at $18 was a popular choice – a deluxe eggplant parmesan stacked with Portabella mushrooms, baked in a tangy tomato sauce along with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Even though I veered towards Piccata di Vitello at $18 – a classic veal scaloppine with garlic linguini, lemon oil and capers, I took her advice and must say it was one of the best meals I have ever had. And to boot – the dish came plated with two “patties” – enough to split for a couple – so the next night’s dinner was sent home in a “doggy box” and was just as delicious reheated.
Bill is mostly a fish or fowl kind of diner and was pleased with
the waitress’s suggestion, Pollo Al Marsala at $16 – grilled chicken breast with garlic linguini, mushroom Marsala sauce and vegetable of the day. Our dinner came with warm and delicious pesto bread rolls. Each table is graced with fresh flowers, a softly glowing candle and impeccable matching white linen tablecloths and napkins. A bottle of olive oil for dipping – again even their olive oil is spiked with garlic and herbs they grow – is at each table. They go through approximately 25 to 30 bulbs of garlic each week!
Insalate – salad menu offerings – are distinct, and each is $6, or $3 with dinner. Cesare della Casa – hearts tender Romaine, tossed with aged Focaccia, house special Ceasar dressing and topped with anchovies; Zeppa Di Lorenzo – iceberg lettuce, Maytag Blue Cheese, shaved red onion and crisp Pancetta with House dressing. And my choice – Spinachio Di Noce – fresh baby spinach with wonderful sugar coated walnuts and artichokes, dressed with shaved Fennel and lemon oil – was fabulous.

SWEET DOLCE
Dolce – desserts are the traditional Tiramisu; sorbet with fresh berries and raspberry puree at $5 each; Canoli, Italian pastry shell filled with chocolate pistachio ricotta and Crostata Cioccolatino – a chocolate tart with fresh berries at $6 each and Spumoni Gelato at $4. Chef Tom insisted on us having a taste – just at the right time he and our waitress dazzled our eyes with three Canoli, Tiramisu and Crostata Cioccolatino - desserts so pretty they looked too good to eat, but each bite was sheer heaven – but neither of us could bring ourselves to eat the flowers.
Other dinners include Pettine Ripieno at $18 – crab stuffed scallops wrapped in proscuitto, served over a large crab cake with scampi sauce and roasted tomato vinaigrette; Manicotta Di Lorenzo at $18 – house made pasta filled with ricotta and parmesan cheese, topped with tomato sauce and “baked to perfection.”
Speicale Di Casa, “House Specialties” feature such dinners as Osso Buco at $23 – tender young veal on the bone, braised fork tender and served with root veggies; Arrosto Di Maiale at $20.00 – juicy bone-in pork chop char grilled and served in a Chianti wine sauce and served with root vegrables; Manzio Alla Grilia at $25 – New York strip, char gilled and served with roasted garlic pollenta and fresh vegetable; Costeletta Di Agnello at $24.00 – char grilled Spring Lamb Chops, “done to your liking,” and served with pear chutney and fresh vegetable; Tramezzinio Di Manzio at $14 – top sirloin steak char grilled on toasted focaccia with roasted red peppers and vegetable; Vitello Al Ropieno at $21 – Veal Scallopine stuffed with prosciuto, herbed ricotta and marinated portabellos. Served with garlic polenta and roasted onion demi glacé.
Currently catering is available in a room full of windows, more oil paintings off to the back of the restaurant. Plans are in the making to convert a barn behind the establishment which will offer space for up to 200. Already many marriages have been performed in the gazebo near the barn – a scenic spot for sure.
All items on the menu are also offered for carry-out. Lorenzo’s is located at 7075 S. Lakeshore Drive (M-119), Harbor Springs. Open at 5 p.m. seven days a week. Smoke free dining. Phone (231) 526-1000.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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