I’m always thrilled to discover another legit, family-owned, real-deal Italian restaurant in the Detroit area, because I am an Italian-restaurant snob. I am a quarter Italian via the bloodline of my beloved maternal grandmother, who was second-generation Italian-American (her parents’ parents were from Italy), and I always wish I was more Italian; I romanticize that part of my heritage, because what’s not to like? For one, Italian food is LIFE. All that garlic and sauce and cheese and spices and rich flavor – the BEST! OK, I know there is more to being Italian than the food, but the food does play an integral role in the culture – and for good reason, given its sky-high deliciousness factor.
Luigi’s in Harrison Township is one of those legit, family-owned, real-deal Italian restaurants peddling cuisine steeped in sky-high deliciousness. According to its website, it’s been around since 1953, which I wasn’t surprised to find out, as the restaurant interior has a real old-school vibe. It feels like a bit of a labyrinth as you wind through the low-ceilinged, multi-roomed structure – but in the coziest of ways.
The restaurant is dimly lit; red twinkle lights festoon the dining area around the bar; the tables are intimately close together and covered in red-and-white-checked tablecloths. The ladies room is hilariously tiny; the walls of its only stall are super low, where my head was sticking clear up above them while I was standing in there. A lady who was waiting in line while I was in there and I were cracking up because it felt awkwardly intimate; we’re locking eyes as I’m finishing up going to the bathroom. Not your usual restroom-stall setup in 2017! If you’re a woman and tall in heels as I am, maybe don’t wear them on the day you visit Luigi’s – or do if you want a laugh.
Anyway, enough about Luigi’s amusing bathroom proportions – let’s talk about the food! I’m on a real eggplant parmesan kick lately, so that’s what I ordered. It was perfection: crispy-fried breaded eggplant covered with mozzarella cheese, cradled on a bed of linguine doused in tomato sauce. From my recollection, eggplant parm isn’t on Luigi’s menu, but of course they’ll make it for you, because every Italian restaurant worth its salt will make you eggplant parmesan (and it will be DELICIOUS.). A quality side-salad came with meal – it was actual greens, not some sad iceberg concoction being passed off as a salad, which I much appreciated. I had a glass of pinot noir and a slice of rich, creamy tiramisu for dessert and was thoroughly stuffed by the time my bill came. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the entire meal cost just over $28 before the tip, which I found quite reasonable, especially given the generous portions.
If you’re in the area and looking to visit Luigi’s (you so should!), it’s definitely worth noting that its website currently states that it will be shut down for construction in the near future; the expected dates of closure are October 30 to November 20, 2017 (maybe the ladies’ room is getting a remodel?). Here’s hoping the renovations will retain the restaurant’s singular charm.