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  • By Lisa Brody

Famed chefs to open Pernoi in former Cafe Via

Pernoi, an Italian hybrid meaning “for us,” will take on its own definition as noted chefs Luciano DelSignore and Takashi Yagihashi join forces to create a unique fine dining restaurant in downtown Birmingham in the former Cafe Via location that will be their dream restaurant, and ultimately, a dream destination for high-end diners.

The restaurant, located at 310 E. Maple Road, closed in March 2018. DelSignore, owner of white tablecloth Italian restaurant Bacco, in Southfield, and a chain of casual pizza restaurants, Bigalore Wood Fired Cucina, said that he and Takashi, as he is known, have been friends for almost 20 years, and “have joked about doing a project. This is a dream.”

Takashi is the former chef of the restaurant Tribute, in Farmington Hills, as well as Michelin-starred restaurant Takashi in Chicago. Over the years, he also created more casual spots, including Slurping Turtle in Chicago and Ann Arbor, and Noodles by Takashi Yagihashi in Chicago.

If timing in life is everything, the closing of Cafe Via by landlord Ted Fuller, provided the opportunity for the two friends to combine their talents and open their fantasy establishment.

“I reached out to Takashi,” DelSignore said. “We're both at a point in our careers where we're ready to do something together.

“As veteran chefs, we had done special events together,” he said, but “this is the place we'd like to find ourselves at.”

How do you combine Italian and Japanese food into a new fusion?

DelSignore said that while Yahihashi is more Japanese than Asian in his approach to cooking, he was classically trained in France, which opens them up to creating unique menus.

But don't look for a Bacco in Birmingham.

“Nothing will be the same as at Bacco,” he emphasized.

With approximately 66 seats indoors and another 35 on the outdoor patio, open for dinner only Tuesday through Saturday, he said the menu will be revolving regularly, with something always fresh and new, “depending on the seasons. We'll be looking for the highest quality ingredients money can buy – not just for quantity, and not just locally.”

Pernoi will not be another farm-to-table restaurant, DelSignore said, which has been done. “It's February. What is there?” he asked.

Playing on the name, “for us,” DelSignore emphasized that Pernoi “is our dream restaurant. We'll be on location. At least one of us will always be cooking, and most nights, both of us will be. We're getting back to the kitchen. We're hands-on-deck chefs at this restaurant.”

The two noted chefs are hoping for a springtime opening. The location is in the midst of a complete renovation, which is currently being designed by Kyle Evans of Royal Oak. Walls are staying put, leaving the restaurant an intimate, high-end place to dine.

An April 1 bistro license application to the Birmingham city commission will help determine the exact opening of the new restaurant, which, if approved in concept sometime in April, will then need to go forward to the city's planning board for recommendation to the city commission for final approval.

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