For this installment of the Metro Detroit Pizza Tour, we traveled to the northern suburb of Madison Heights…
A true suburb in the classic sense, Madison Heights was incorporated in 1955 when suburban living became the craze across the country. And its architecture reflects the evolution from classic suburb to current big-box-store-anchored strip mall paradise – although they do boast a majority of privately owned businesses
The Green Lantern Lounge shares its birthday with the city itself, having been opened by Thomas and Irene Vettraino in 1955. To this day their daughter, Marlene Spreitzer, uses the same recipe that made their pizza legendary throughout the metro Detroit region. There is a location now in Royal Oak, but of course we had to travel to the original site to see what this pizza was all about.
I’d like mention that while researching their website, I got a chuckle out of the very honest writing – not typical marketing stuff. For instance they admitted that their chicken was dry, and that the place was smoky – even the non-smoking part. I found that approach very refreshing.
Stepping inside the Green Lantern Lounge on a cold winter day felt very right. The restaurant exudes warmth, and – as the name “lounge” would suggest – it’s appropriately dark and smoky. A fantastic stamped tin ceiling and dark woods created comfort and coziness for the nearly-at-capacity pub-like space. We went on a Sunday afternoon, and the sports-watching clientele were deep into their pitchers of beer and focused on the drama of the game.
Cozy, pub-like atmosphere makes for a good pizza-eating environment.
This isn’t a place where there is a sports bar in one section and an eating area in another (à la Sheild’s). The whole place is pretty much a bar atmosphere. Fine by me, but I didn’t happen to see kids around, so not so sure about the whole family dining thing.
Dining room detail.
So we got beer, as this is the kind of place where beer is a requirement, and ordered the traditional thin crust (they also have a thick pie on the menu, but the thin is what they have been serving for over 50 years) with some of our favorite toppings (olives, sausage, mushroom, onion). We also got a salad – Greek this time – as is our tradition (a nod to our struggling arteries).
I can not complain about the service. Very prompt and attentive. Nor can I knock the beer or Greek salad – not a GREAT salad, but certainly better than o.k., with a generous amount of toppings. And honestly the pizza had this sort of pizza-oven taste that I can only describe as being the way pizza was meant to taste – the quality of flavor that comes from a well-worn oven that has had years of use – a sort of seared-oregano infusion that only some rare pizzerias can deliver.
Pizza pie – olive, mushroom, onion and sausage.
BUT – we found the quality of toppings lacking. What could have been a stellar execution, with perfect sauce, buttery cheese, and classic crust with flawless texture, was marred by mediocre toppings that seemed perhaps a step above the chains – or maybe on par. We both said it at the same time, so my impression was not unique.
Portrait of a slice.
In any event, I can see why the Green Lantern is so beloved. If I lived closer, it would certainly be a regular stop, as I really appreciated the warm, intimate ambiance, and now that I know their mushrooms are canned and their olives mushy, I would probably order a straight-up pepperoni and be very pleased.
So if you like a pub atmosphere and a truly traditional pizza that has stood the test of time, the Green Lantern Lounge will hit the spot.
Green Lantern Lounge
28960 John R Rd.
Madison Heights, MI 48071-2819
Phone: (248) 541-5439
(another location at 4326 Rochester Road, Royal Oak)