Italian

472. Guiseppe’s Restaurant – March 12, 2020 – Chesterfield, MI

March2020Guiseppe's1 (2)March2020Guiseppe's3 (2)Guiseppe’s Restaurant was the last establishment I dined at before the coronavirus blew up here in Metro-Detroit. I’m so grateful to have had the experience of eating dinner there with a friend before this necessary period of social isolation set in.

For those of you who have lost loved ones to this virus, who are battling the virus yourselves, or whose lives have been affected by it in other terrible ways, I am sorry, and I am sending love to you. I know this little post on an Italian restaurant in Chesterfield, MI isn’t the kind of thing that can ease your pain in any real way, but I hope it provides a momentary diversion for those of you who are seeking it.

Guiseppe’s is located in a strip mall. Its interior is unpretentious and homey – and it serves up a mean Eggplant Parmesan.

The restaurant was offering a 2-for-$20 special during my visit, meaning you could purchase two featured meals – with soup or salad included – for only $10 bucks apiece. The Eggplant Parmesan I opted for was part of that special. It was delicious with its melt-in-your-mouth breaded and fried eggplant slathered in rich tomato sauce and cheese and served with a side of al dente penne pasta.

That 2-for-$20 menu is available Sundays through Thursdays and includes a variety of pasta dishes (including Manicotti, Homemade Lasagna, and Spaghetti Carbonara), plus chicken- and fish-centric meals such as Chicken Marsala and Beer Battered Fish and Chips.

Guiseppe’s regular dinner menu features a more in-depth list of pasta dishes, plus appetizers, salads, pizzas, and meat-focused entrées such as Steak Siciliano, Veal Scaloppini, and Shrimp Casalinga. The restaurant has a full bar; I enjoyed a tasty glass of pinot noir while there.

As of the writing of this post, Guiseppe’s was still open, accepting carryout orders only. So you can still experience its delectable Italian cuisine at this time if you’re local and looking to take a break from cooking.

49120 Gratiot Ave.

Chesterfield, MI 48051

www.giuseppesrestaurant.net

463. Rocco’s Italian Deli – January 30, 2020 – Detroit, MI

January2020Rocco'sItalianDeli1 (2)January2020Rocco'sItalianDeli2 (2)My mouth still waters when I think about the meatball sub I ordered at Rocco’s Italian Deli over a month ago. That Want Nonna to Make You a Meatball? sub was exquisite with its tender beef meatballs nestled in an irresistibly chewy bun and slathered in flavorful marinara sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan!

Rocco’s is more than a sandwich shop. The establishment based in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit is also a grocer offering shelves of Italian dry-goods staples such as pasta, canned tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, and wine, plus a full deli counter proffering olives and slice-to-order cheeses and cured meats. It’s also a bar, serving beer, wine, and cocktails – AND a coffee house, serving coffee and espresso drinks. All that wrapped into one – with killer sandwiches, to boot!

I’m apparently not the only one who finds Rocco’s so appealing: it was bustling with clientele when I entered it on the afternoon of my visit. The lunch crowd was in full swing! I’d hoped to stay and enjoy my sandwich at one of its tables or counter seats, but based off of the scarcity in seating at that time, I opted for carryout instead.

Scanning Rocco’s prepared-foods menu of entrée salads and sandwiches, I encountered numerous delectable-sounding options before making Want Nonna to Make You a Meatball? my choice. Take, for instance, the Mozz and Mozz of Fun sandwich boasting fresh mozzarella, roasted tomato, basil pesto, and balsamic drizzle and the Little Puzzo Loves His Pork with its roasted pork, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone. Yum and YUM!

I ordered at the counter, and despite the busyness, waited no more than 10 minutes for my order; Rocco’s staff was operating as a well-oiled, sandwich-building, salad-slinging machine!

Once home, I dug into my Want Nonna to Make You a Meatball? sub and found that my choice was justified. It was DELICIOUS! I ate it with such relish that I didn’t pause to take a photo of it. Bonus points go to Rocco’s for putting the marinara sauce on the side to ensure the optimal sponginess of the sandwich bread once I bit into it (hooray for not-soggy sandwiches!).

My consensus around Rocco’s Italian Deli is obvious to me: it’s DEFINITELY revisit-worthy. My intention for Visit Number Two: to enjoy one of its tasty sandwiches in-house, accompanied by a glass of red wine or a cappuccino (or both!).

3627 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

(Closed Sundays)

www.roccosdetroit.com

458. Cork and Gabel – January 17, 2020 – Detroit, MI

January2020CorkandGabel1 (2)January2020CorkandGabel3 (2)January2020CorkandGabel4 (2)Detroit jaunts warm my heart, even on the coldest of days. And a jaunt to Corktown’s Cork and Gabel on a Friday night in mid-January was no exception to this rule.

On ambiance alone, I was captivated with this place from the get-go. Opening Cork and Gabel’s big metal door (which is made from a recycled oil tank, BTW; the whole of the tank makes up a lobby area) and stepping over the threshold, I was greeted by a vibrant display of super-cool graffiti art – and THAT was just in the lobby!

The interior of Cork and Gabel is warm and inviting, a mash-up of industrial-chic and antique vibes with its minimalist light fixtures, brick walls, distressed-wood bar front, and repurposed elements such as the aforementioned oil tank.

According to a FAQ sheet put on the tables at Cork and Gabel, several of the elements that comprise the restaurant are recycled ones getting a new lease on life (which I LOVE). There’s a bell hanging above the bar from around the turn of the 20th century that used to belong to a Detroit business called Fulton Engine and Iron Works that is rung any time a round of at least twelve drinks is bought at the bar. We got to hear it rung while we were there! There’s fencing from Mt. Elliott Cemetery, and brick pavers that used to line the streets of Detroit now line the Cork and Gabel patio. There are former gas carriage lights from the mid-1800s that have been converted to electric lights. History reinvigorated!

The creativity and ingenuity doesn’t end with Cork and Gabel’s ambiance. The restaurant practices a type of repurposing with its food menu, too, melding Irish, Italian, and German cooking to form its cuisine, which is heavy on comfort fare (making it especially ideal at this time of year). Its dinner menu offers hearty salads, appetizers, and meat-centric dishes such as the Bangers and Mash, Schnitzel BLT, and Prosciutto Tortellini. A brunch menu is also offered on Saturday and Sundays and includes a most gargantuan Bloody Mary (the Ultimate Bloody Mary), a quart-sized portion loaded with foodstuffs (including meat, cheese, and a full-blown breakfast sandwich) that makes me wish I liked Bloody Marys (I love the whimsy of these loaded ones!).

But it’s not all meat-and-dairy-laden goodness at Cork and Gabel: vegetarian and vegan options such as the Mushroom Risotto (made with vegetable stock) and Meatless Sausage Pasta are available, too. It’s always good to be able to support veg friends!

After perusing Cork and Gabel’s craft cocktail menu and ordering a drink from our awesome server (the fantastic The Southwest, which was right up my alley with its ancho-jalapeño-infused tequila, lime juice, and honey-habanero simple syrup), I studied that food menu and opted for the dish that I’d kept coming back to: the C&G Burger. Based off of the ingredients listed on the menu – lettuce, tomato, bacon, Guinness-caramelized onions, and TWO kinds of cheese: a black pepper-infused mozzarella and what was described as a “crispy Dubliner cheese” – I suspected this was going to be one hefty burger.

I wasn’t mistaken in that assumption. The C&G Burger was indeed a hulking display of comfort-food decadence, comprised as it was of a big beef patty on a toasted brioche bun and loaded with that glut of toppings, accompanied by a slew of French fries.

The meal did not disappoint: it was rich, satisfying tastiness! My favorite part of the C&G Burger was that crispy Dubliner cheese, which turned out to be wedges of cheese that were breaded and deep-fried into extreme YUM-ness.

From ambiance to service, from food to drink, the whole of my visit to Cork and Gabel was a super satisfying one – one that warmed my heart on that chilly winter’s night, for sure.

2415 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

(Closed Tuesdays)

www.corkandgabel.com

417. La Noria Bistro – July 13, 2019 – Detroit, MI

July2019LaNoriaBistro1 (2)July2019LaNoriaBistro2 (2)La Noria Bistro is gracing 100 Places in the D! If I didn’t know better, I’d say this Southwest Detroit-based restaurant was tailor-made for me, serving as it does my two favorite cuisines – Italian and Mexican – under one roof. But naturally, La Noria Bistro is serving up the cheesy, spicy, flavorful goodness to more than just my party of one. 😛

I visited La Noria Bistro on a Saturday night in mid-July. July up to that point had been cray-cray-ba-nay-nay for me, so I was thrilled to step away from the madness for a new-place visit.

As restaurants serving both Mexican and Italian food aren’t common to this area, it was funny to realize that La Noria Bistro is located next to the only other Detroit restaurant I’m aware of that features a similar menu mash-up: 100 Places in the D favorite El Barzon. It was also no surprise, then, to later discover that they are owned by the same chef.

As with El Barzon, when you walk into La Noria Bistro, you feel as if you are leaving the banal outside world behind and entering a place of enchantment. From its backlit bar with rows of gleaming bottles to its brick walls etched with archways to the royal purple linens enrobing each table, La Noria Bistro’s dining room exudes an elegance that feels as welcoming as it does sophisticated.

Mexican and Italian food hold equal footing on the menu. Calamari lives alongside Chorizo con Queso Fundido. Italian-prepared veal, pasta, and seafood dishes coexist with fajitas, tacos, and enchiladas. There’s a section devoted to pizza – and another devoted to Mexican Sandwiches. SOOOO much goodness to choose from!

Would I go Italian or Mexican, Mexican or Italian during my visit? The glorious thing about dining at La Noria Bistro was that I didn’t have to choose one of the cuisines to the exclusion of the other  – I could choose BOTH! And choose both I did.

For my beverage, I went Italian, ordering a glass of red wine (though La Noria Bistro’s extensive list of signature cocktails is deeply intriguing me as I peruse it during the writing of this post). My appetizer, the tasty complimentary chips and salsa brought to the table, was Mexican by default – but I also went the Mexican route with my entrée, the Enchiladas Rojas. For dessert, you KNOW I had to order some of that Italian tiramisu!

The Enchiladas Rojas were exquisite! I opted for my dish to include cheese enchiladas as well as chicken-stuffed ones; both were richly flavorful and well complemented by a perfectly-spiced red sauce, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, and sour cream drizzle. They were accompanied by seasoned rice and black beans.

The tiramisu was exceptional, too. It represented the Italian side of La Noria Bistro’s menu well with its layers of mascarpone cream and ladyfinger cookies well-soaked in rum flavoring.

Service at La Noria Bistro was excellent; our female server was friendly, prompt, and professional.

So while I know La Noria Bistro was not custom-made for me, my visit there certainly made it feel like it was, embodying as it did the ethos that I adore in a dining experience: top-notch food, service, and ambiance served up in a way that makes the meal – and you, as the guest – feel special. PLUS, Mexican food and Italian food comingling on one menu: does it get any better than that???

5517 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48210

https://la-noria-bistro.business.site

402. Grandma Bob’s – March 28, 2019 – Detroit, MI

March2019GrandmaBobs2 (3)March2019GrandmaBobs1 (3)Grandma Bob’s is serving up some delicious pizza in the D!

This I discovered on a Thursday night in late March, after happy-hour drinks with a friend at beloved 100 Places in the D alumni member Two James Spirits. Starving after our adult-beverage imbibing, we continued the revelry at the then newly-opened Corktown-based pizzeria.

Is there any food that tastes better after you’ve had a few drinks than pizza? Of course, pizza tastes just as amazing stone-cold-sober as it does when you’re tipsy, but you know what I mean. We had worked up an appetite and were excited to taste-test Grandma Bob’s wares.

Walking into Grandma Bob’s, I admired its fun, funky vibe. Bare lightbulbs hung amidst a tangle of cording from the ceiling. The walls were dark, and the prominent artwork they showcased was a striking ceramic-tile mural of a piece of pizza. A bar along one wall provided seat options, as did long communal tables.

At the time of our visit, the pizzeria had some intriguing choices on its menu, including a Coney pizza loaded with all of the fixings of the iconic hot dog (the chili, the mustard, the onions, the hot dog itself – you name it!) and the Pear + Fig pie with its slices of pear, dried figs, honey, walnuts, blue cheese, and basil.

Usually I love to try a pizza loaded with intriguing topping options. Why wasn’t I going for Grandma Bob’s Taco pie with its roasted corn, jalapeños, onion, chorizo, radish, crushed corn chips, cilantro, and lime? For whatever reason, I was in a no-frills mood, and the classic Cheese pizza with its mozzarella, red sauce, and shredded basil was calling my name, so I heeded the call.

My friend went simple, too, opting for the Pepperoni pizza. We ordered at the counter at the front of Grandma Bob’s, procuring a round of drinks, as well; I enjoyed one of the bar’s tasty craft cocktails – though 4.5 months later, I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called or what it contained (here’s to taking real notes going forward instead of mental notes – and to catching up on the blog so I’m posting in real time!).

Our food came out promptly, and THESE PIZZAS, you guys. They were paragons of fresh, cheesy goodness!

Grandma Bob’s cheese pizza was a reminder of what cheese pizza should taste like: so richly flavorful, making my taste buds go “WOW!!!” Who needs all of the extra toppings when you’ve got cheese pizza like that to eat? It was seriously phenomenal.

My friend felt the same way about the pizza she ordered, that it was more flavorfully nuanced than your typical pepperoni pie. It had honey drizzled over it, giving it a subtle sweetness that she enjoyed.

I ate every slice of the twelve-inch round I ordered but one, opting to take it home so I could savor it later. I left Grandma Bob’s feeling full and satisfied, excited to have discovered yet another awesome locally-owned establishment in Detroit (the city is positively brimming with ’em!).

2135 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.grandmabobs.com

394. Buon Appetito – February 23, 2019 – Romeo, MI

February2019BuonAppetito1 (2)February2019BuonAppetito3 (2)After dining at Cantoro Trattoria the Saturday prior, Italian was again on the docket for me the following weekend, this time at Romeo’s Buon Appetito.

I certainly did not object to the repeat in cuisine; I LOVE Italian food. And I loved Buon Appetito’s Eggplant Parmigiana, which I enjoyed as my lunch that day. It was rich, cheesy, deep-fried goodness.

(BTW, how is it that eggplant transforms into something so melt-in-your-mouth amazing when it’s simply dipped in bread crumbs and deep-fried? I’m not a huge fan of that veggie otherwise, but when it’s fried – MAN!)

The restaurant offers a wide array of traditional Italian favorites, including veal-, steak-, and seafood-centered choices and various pastas (with the ability to build your own customized pasta dish). It also serves beer and wine.

No flowery elaboration required here: Buon Appetito’s cuisine is simply delicious, and it’s definitely worth a visit!

117 W. Lafayette St.

Romeo, MI 48065

www.buonappetitoitaliancuisine.com

393. Cantoro Trattoria – February 16, 2019 – Troy, MI

February2019Cantoro1 (2)February2019Cantoro2 (2)February2019Cantoro3 (2)I love Italian food; it’s so rich and comforting and luxurious on the palate! At least, it’s all of those things when it’s done well. And, as I discovered on a chilly evening in mid-February, Cantoro Trattoria in Troy does Italian well.

My mom and stepdad had been raving about the restaurant for months, so I was excited to finally visit it with them for dinner. I was impressed by its sleek modern interior; the prompt, friendly, and polite service that we received; and the delicious cuisine.

The Napoli Caprese salad we shared, for instance, was excellent with its luscious mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. So was my entrée, the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese with its weighty house-made noodles and hearty tomato sauce laden with pancetta and ground beef, veal, and sausage.

Cantoro’s menu is loaded with delectable-sounding offerings such as these. It offers a variety of appetizers, pizzas, pastas, and grill items such as Costoletta di Vitello (veal rib chop) and Branzino alla Griglia (Mediterranean sea bass).

Sitting there in the glitzy dining room of Cantoro Trattoria, sipping red wine and enjoying great food and company, I felt as cozy as can be despite the freezing outdoor temperature. My heart was warm, and my stomach was full – who can ask for anything else?

1695 E. Big Beaver Rd.

Troy, MI 48083

(With an additional location in Plymouth)

www.cantorotrattoria.com/troy

370. Crispelli’s – October 10, 2018 – Berkley, MI

October2018Crispellis1 (2)October2018Crispellis4 (2)October2018Crispellis3 (2)The pizza drew me to Crispelli’s of Berkley, but what captured my heart was its salad.

The heart-capturing was specifically carried out by Crispelli’s Mediterranean salad, with its wonderfully zesty lemon-oregano dressing and super-fresh-tasting ingredients: crisp mixed greens and cucumber; marinated red onion; vibrant beets; briny Kalamata olives; creamy chunks of feta; and crunchy toasted breadstick.

This Mediterranean salad is LIIIFFEEE, my friends. I got the side-salad version of it, which was hearty for its size; entrée and family-sized versions are also available. In my humble opinion, it would 100 percent not be a mistake to come to this pizzeria and order that salad as your entrée. And that’s saying a lot, because I love me some pizza.

And Crispelli’s, the local pizza purveyor with additional locations in Troy and West Bloomfield (and a bakery, Bread by Crispelli’s, in Royal Oak), is known for its pizza. It’s kind of a big deal around these parts, so it’s crazy to me that it took me over 4.5 years of blogging at 100 Places in the D to finally sample its wares. The Red Pie pizza I  ordered, with its chunks of fresh mozzarella, sausage, caramelized onion, and Detroit-style deep-dish crust (patrons are given a choice between that and thin crust), was good. But I’m telling ya, that salad!

Aesthetics-wise, I enjoyed the mish-mash of ambiance at the Berkley location of Crispelli’s. The front part is casual: an order-at-the-counter dining hall-type set up. The back area is fancier, with a bar and servers to attend to guests, and there are patio areas where you can receive sit-down service, as well. I enjoyed sitting on the front patio in what was presumably my last outdoor dining experience of the year (R.I.P. ’til 2019, patio season!).

28939 Woodward Ave.

Berkley, MI 48072

www.crispellis.com

368. Loui’s Pizza – October 6, 2018 – Hazel Park, MI

October2018Louis1 (2)October2018Louis2 (4)October2018Louis3 (3)Loui’s Pizza: I’m OBSESSED!!!!

The last-but-most-certainly-not-least of the five new places I visited on my 34th birthday, the Hazel Park-based pizzeria majorly exceeded my expectations, even dethroning Buddy’s Pizza as my favorite local pizza purveyor, which is a VERY BIG DEAL.

I actually feel sacrilegious saying I like Loui’s Pizza better than Buddy’s, because Buddy’s is a part of the family mythology on my mother’s side. My great-grandma made the sauce at the original, still-open location at Six Mile and Conant in Detroit. Buddy’s Pizza is sort of in our DNA – or at the very least, our go-to main course for family celebrations. But MAN, is Loui’s Pizza good!

The pizzeria was PACKED when my mom, stepdad, and I arrived around 7:30 on that rainy Saturday evening. Its cheery red interior felt homey and welcoming with its ceilings hung with twinkle lights and multitude of empty wine bottles signed by patrons; it vibrated with good energy. Loui’s cozy-retro confines felt like the warmth of a beloved grandparent’s hug: safe and secure and reassuring.

Our server was prompt and friendly. While we waited for our pizza, we shared an individual-sized antipasto salad. I’m generally not one for antipasto salads, but this one impressed me: it was fresh and flavorful, with chunks of ham in addition to the salami and a tasty dressing.

And then, it was the moment of truth: our pizza arrived. I bit into my first slice of sausage-and-onion-topped pie, and O.M.G.

Loui’s pizza may be the best pizza I have ever eaten; it’s certainly the best pizza I can recall eating. The cheese was rich, plentiful, and flavorful. The edges of the crust were crispy, greasy deliciousness. The bottom part of the crust was not super well-done, allowing us to taste its doughiness – which we enjoyed, because it was wonderful tasting. The sauce was not as plentiful as Buddy’s, and also not as strongly flavored, and we liked that.

We all agreed: this iteration of Detroit-style pizza was better than Buddy’s, however awkward that was to admit in the face of our family mythology (sorry, Buddy’s – we still love you!).

The gloriousness of Loui’s pizza continued for me with the two leftover slices I took home along with a portion of cheesy breadsticks my mom had ordered to-go because they’d taunted us from a nearby table. How good those were, too! They were loaded with that rich, flavorful cheese.

Two weeks later, I’m still dreaming of Loui’s and its epic pizza and breadsticks. I want to hole up within its cozy interior and get some of that cheesy, greasy, doughy perfection back into my belly!

Worth noting: Loui’s is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

23141 Dequindre Rd.

Hazel Park, MI 48030

358. Ottava Via – September 6, 2018 – Detroit, MI

September2018OttavaVia1 (3)September2018OttavaVia3 (2)Ottava Via: what a delight! This restaurant exceeded my expectations, presenting an immensely enjoyable dining experience.

I didn’t hold much in the way of expectations around Ottava Via prior to going there because I didn’t know much about it. Here’s what I knew: it served Italian, was located in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, and a friend of mine had once snatched a barely-eaten appetizer off an abandoned table there and eaten it (apparently it was too enticing to pass up!). AND it was on my collected list of places to visit, so I’d likely read something good about it at some point. With that background information in mind, I recruited a pal for a dinnertime visit and motored down to Michigan Avenue.

Pulling up to the restaurant’s storefront, I realized I’d passed its nondescript black-and-white sign quite a few times. I also realized its demure appearance belies the glory that resides just behind it.

Pulling around to the rear of Ottava Via to park, I saw this gorgeous gated patio with pots of flowers, strings of twinkle lights, and wooden communal tables. A fire burned in a brick fireplace, and adjacent to the patio was a bocce court where guests could play the traditional Italian game. It was a hidden paradise!

There was no way my friend and I weren’t sitting in that garden enclave, especially during the last dregs of the warm-weather season. We plopped down at one of those communal tables and soaked up the pleasant patio-side vibes.

I perused Ottava Via’s menu and was quickly sold on the Ragout Alla Bolognese with its veal- and pork-infused sauce, though several of the small-plate and pizza options intrigued me, including the prosciutto- and cheese-stuffed fried Arancini balls and two of my fave Italian classics, Caprese salad and Margherita pizza. My friend ordered the Artichoke pizza with its namesake veggie, pecorino cheese, garlic, lemon zest, and a spinach pesto sauce.

The meals came out promptly, and I was pumped to dig into the Ragout Alla Bolognese with its thick pappardelle egg noodles, meaty sauce, and dollops of fresh ricotta.

Dug in I did, to discover that the dish was delicious. The sauce was rich, the ricotta was creamy, the noodles were wonderfully fresh and flavorful. I enjoyed those house-made pappardelle noodles in that Ragout Alla Bolognese as much as I did the sauce, which surprised me. I guess I’m used to eating dried pasta that tastes more like the cardboard box it came in than a from-scratch culinary staple with a rich tradition. Ottava Via’s pappardelle pasta definitely tastes like the latter; it’s a prime component of the Ragout Alla Bolognese rather than simply a vessel for the sauce.

My friend raved about her pizza with its chunks of artichokes and pesto sauce, and it looked so appealing that I had to try a bite of it; it was tasty, and I would have loved to scarf the whole of it myself.

To drink wine and eat pizza and pasta while dining alfresco and enjoying good company: is there anything better than that? In the scheme of life, it’s a simple experience, and yet the unadulterated pleasure it offers makes it a magical one – especially when dining at a place that offers as much in the way of cuisine and ambiance as Ottava Via does.

1400 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.ottavaviadetroit.com