Ken and Kelly Tarsitano are parents to three young children and one 15-year-old winery, the largest certified organic vineyard in the Great Lakes region. It's a recipe for happy chaos at this charming hybrid tasting room-restaurant operating out of a remodeled barn. Shabby-chic mismatched tables and chairs jumble around an antique pot-bellied stove, and most of the time, Ken is behind the counter, whipping up family-recipe pasta dishes by hand. Word about this place is quickly getting around; when we tried to show up unannounced for a Saturday evening dinner, the restaurant was booked solid. Fortunately, Sunday lunch provided the same menu, a much slower pace and fewer customers.
The entrees here are some of the best you'll find in the region, but be forewarned — this is not low-calorie fare. These are rich, creamy, buttery Italian pastas with chicken or steak, positively begging for wine pairings. (The Tarsitanos also grow herbs and vegetables in gardens named after their children.) When it’s available, the squash ravioli with chicken in a garlic butter sauce ($21) is a standout choice.
Ken is also working hard on his varietals (bottles run $19 to $32), learning from some of the area's most esteemed growers. The wines aren’t our favorites in the area, but the outstanding food, the lovely setting and the passion make Tarsitano Winery and Cafe a worthwhile destination.