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Bistro at golf course is worth the drive

Wed., Feb. 6, 2013, midnight

A recent television show dramatized the romance of going to Italy, a reminder of one of the best vacations ever.

Maybe that is why an outing for Italian is definitely a couple’s thing in our houses. That is why it took us so long to follow a recommendation from a reader to go to the Sundance Bistro on Nine Mile Road, closer to Canada than our homes in the southeast Valley. Coordinating four schedules lately has been nearly impossible.

Finally, we couldn’t take it any longer and headed north on a Friday night when our wives weren’t available.

Before we get to the main course, we’ve got to tell you about a funny thing that happened on our way to this new-to-us place. We received a call from friends patronizing a restaurant on the South Hill and they wanted to know if it was OK to walk out of a place before they even ordered because of a rude hostess.

Hopefully, it is obvious to our handful of readers (thanks again, Mom), we told them to BOLT!

As many as 90 percent of restaurants fail in the first years, so the frequent diner could spend a lifetime trying new places and along the way experience countless bad meals or service. It’s a numbers game, a roll of the dice. Maybe that’s why we feel a certain (professional) obligation to praise those established spots that deserve the success that’s earned from serving great food with great service in a clean place with a nice ambience but because they are out of the way or unadvertised find themselves serving only five tables at 7 on a Friday night in January.

Why be suspenseful? The text to the two absent diners said: “You missed the best Italian since Tommaso’s and it’s a close second! Ha, ha.”

Tommaso’s, in San Francisco, was the scene a few years back for one of the great vacation dinners of all time. And Sundance was right there.

Walt and Victoria MacDuff have been open at the club house for four years, changing the menu from Mexican. She is Sicilian, he’s obviously not, but he sure plays one in the kitchen.

The Sundance Bistro ought to be a regular dining spot for anyone on the North Side of town looking for great Italian food.

We generally try not to be too specific about the food we try because that’s subjective. However, since we enjoy the Italian style of cooking over most others, we certainly have an opinion as to what we consider good or great, and what is not. This was great … arguably, some of the best in town.

The sauces for the linguini and clams and the chicken piccata were reduced to the perfect consistency, not by adding cornstarch.

The calamari appetizer was not a heavily battered, overcooked seafood onion ring, but rather a light crispy starter that only whetted the appetite. A great bottle of wine, moderately priced, was the perfect accent. And the finale, for two non-dessert eaters, was a tiramisu that was so light, it could only be freshly homemade – which we verified.

Oh, and by the way, the call from our friends? You guessed it … a brand new place. Mistakes are bound to happen, so it deserves another shot, but don’t forget those that have paid their dues.

Former longtime S-R writer Dave Trimmer and his friend, former restaurateur Dan Coyle, forged a common bond over dinner and drink. They know it takes more than great food to make dining out worth the money. They share recent finds and longtime favorites in this column, which runs monthly in the Food section. Reach them at daveanddan@

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