You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Pizza Reviews’ tag.
This installment of the Detroit Pizza Tour takes us to the charming near-Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Woods….
Right there on Mack Avenue, near the Original Pancake House and right by a cute yarn shop, is the delightful storefront of DiNoto’s Genuine Italian with a welcoming red awning.
When we entered Dinoto’s we were confronted with a promising aroma and friendly service. A young woman was working the counter, answering our questions, when owner-operator Pino DiNoto emerged from the kitchen and insisted we sample one of his famous “S” cookies – a cakey, buttery sugar cookie with a delicate layer of frosting. His thick Italian accent immediately charmed us and gave an aura of authenticity to the pizzas we were about to sample.
We decided on two small pizza and a side order of cannelini beans and took a walk around the neighborhood while our pizzas were being prepared. To be clear, DiNoto’s does carry out only. For some reason, even though I’d read some Yelp reviews before going, I was a little surprised to realize this, but it didn’t really matter in the long run.
Our two pizzas were Pino’s White Vegetable Pizza and the Sicilian Pizza. Pino’s White vegetable pizza is described as “light and delicious – without sauce, topped with oven roasted veggies, olive oil, herbs and Romano cheese.” This was Michael’s favorite. It had tomato, onion, and thinly sliced yellow squash. Indeed light and garlicy. My only regret was that there was not more of a tang to it, to balance the flavors. I think had the tomatoes been in season this would have done the trick, but we all know fresh tomatoes this time of year aren’t always the best tasting.
The Sicilian was my favorite, also very simple, with crushed tomatoes that had a serious depth (almost as if they were mixed with sun-dried tomatoes) and herbs, olive oil, garlic with a light sprinkling of Romano cheese. Tangy and delicious.
This isn’t the Detroit pizza style with the thick crust, but a medium-to-thin crust, with an unobtrusive, delicate flavor that really highlights the toppings. Don’t expect gobs of melted cheese, either. Just a slight dusting of Pecorino-Romano actually makes this pie a healthier option than some grease laden varieties we’re accustomed to. We did happen to pick pizzas that were vegetarian, but mostly because there is a wide variety of vegetarian options that just looked so yummy and different. They also have a pie with prosciutto and arugula, the Gambino’s Favorite, which is calling my name for another visit.
I read rave reviews about the meatball sub, so next time I go I will try a different kind of pizza, for some variety, and this highly recommended sandwich. Their menu also has some fantastic looking pasta dishes and salads. One thing is for sure, if I lived closer I would be making more trips to DiNoto’s and probably buying too many of those delectable S cookies in the process.
Overall, the unique, authentic quality of the pizza combined with the quaint atmosphere and exceptionally welcoming service can’t help but endear you to this place. I can see why DiNoto’s is a favorite pizza stop for Detroiters. As it stands, my only regret was that I could not enjoy the pizza fresh from the oven with a nice glass of Chianti (this is the kind of pizza that screams for wine over beer!). Since we simply couldn’t wait for the drive home to lose that hot-out-of-the-oven experience, we had to eat it in the car!
DiNoto’s Genuine Italian Carry Out
20223 Mack Ave.
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236
Phone: (313) 884-5030
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)
More pizza adventures from Metro Detroit as I continue my Detroit Pizza Tour…
Great things are said about PizzaPapalis, which has five locations in metro Detroit (seven if you count the combo Rio Wraps locations, where they have a limited menu in combination with wraps). This locally-grown, beloved restaurant, which started in the 80s, has ridden its popularity all the way to a location in Toledo. So I was excited to give it a try. Especially since there’s one not too far from my home.
I must admit I never even noticed it on my way to Buddy’s – right down the block – until I began researching for my Pizza Tour. After a visit to their website, I was prepared to be faced with Chicago-style pie, which I must admit is not my favorite. In fact, until I met the classic Detroit-style pizza, I never considered myself a thick-crust kinda gal. So with that epiphany in mind, I went to PizzaPapalis (Dearborn location) with an open mind and an empty stomach.
Inside PizzaPapalis on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn.
The interior is clean and sleek with stylish “vintage” posters of Chicago all around – and is too brightly lit for my taste. There’s a bar, several TVs with sports being broadcast, and a keno set up, if you’re into that sort of thing. We ordered a pitcher of beer, and I was very pleased with the frosty mugs that came with.
We decided to get both the deep dish and the thin crust. Be warned if you are on a tight schedule, as we were told it would take 25 minutes for the thin, and 30 for the deep dish. Maybe it always takes this long for pizza, and they never tell you and I never notice. But the fact that they pointed it out to me did make me notice, and has caused me to be more time-conscious in my visits to other pizza joints (which run closer to 15-20 minutes, if you’re interested).
I’m really glad we ordered the thin crust, because honestly it was the highlight of the meal. The cheese, oh the cheese! — I don’t know why, but I have to say that was some superior cheese. It has a sort of buttery, provolone quality. The sauce was good, the toppings generous. But that cheese was just really yum. Somehow in the deep dish you just couldn’t get the flavor of the cheese, perhaps because it was overpowered by the excess of bread/crust. In general, I just couldn’t love the deep dish as I did its thinner brother. Could be because I ordered blander toppings on the deep dish, and I should have remembered that deep dish really needs some spicy toppings to complement the bulk of the crust, which I have to mention is rather biscuit-like. I don’t know that this texture really adds anything. It’s different. Not terrible. But I wasn’t really a fan. Like I said, I found the thin crust pie tastier all around. It had the same quality of crust, but just less of it.
I will say that my dining companion was considerably more impressed with the pizza than I was, so I have to include this point to be fair. I can’t really compare this pizza to Buddy’s because it’s just altogether a different genre.
If you love Chicago-style, this might be the place for you. As for myself, my conclusion for future PizzaPapalis visits is this: skip the dine-in experience. Call in a take-out, thin crust. And if you do dine in, be sure to get a frosty mug of beer to enjoy and have some good company with you while you wait for your pizza.
22022 Michigan Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48124
Other locations in Troy, Greektown, Southfield, Rivertown, and Toledo
The first installment of my admittedly ambitious Pizza Tour of Detroit.
In the unassuming, working class suburb of Hazel Park, within a mile of Detroit Proper, lies a legend among pizza joints: Loui’s Pizza.
My first introduction to Detroit-style pizza was Buddy’s, a legend of its own with 9 locations in the Detroit-metro area.
But part of what makes Loui’s so special is that there is only one. And the one is so adorable in its ambiance as to trump any Buddy’s atmosphere I’ve been to. There are literally hundreds of basket-cradled Chianti bottles draping the walls, interlaced with cheery Christmas lights on a properly Italian-Restaurant-Red background. The bottles are signed by loyal patrons from any number of years ago, as this location has been in the same spot for over three decades. Just walking into this place puts you into a mood for a great dining experience.
And you’ll get one, too. Not the kind of upwardly mobile, wish-I-was-in-Chicago pizza dining experience best suited to the mall shoppers of the world. But a real career-waitresses-who-know-your-name, Made-in-Detroit, exact-same-menu-and-furnishings-since-you-were-a-kid dining experience that can only come from an authentic legend like Loui’s. This place is a serious case study in pizza as comfort food.
So what about the pizza?
The pizza here is nearly indistinguishable from Buddy’s, with the same square, Sicilian shape, same sauce-on-top structure, same scorched-outer-yielding-to-doughy-center crust, and same carmelized cheese edges that make it impossible to ignore as a pizza genre in its own right. I will say that the sauce at Loui’s has an extra pepper bite and extra oregano that DOES distinguish it from Buddy’s. For me, the only drawback was that the mushrooms were from a jar and not fresh. But with so many other things going for it, this minor misdeed was forgivable.
While we waited, my dinner companion and I sipped some adequate red table wine from a carafe and munched on the lauded antipasto salad. The salad was not fancy mixed greens, but straight-up, crowd-pleasing iceberg — fittingly served super cold — with very, very generous amounts of meat, cheese and tomatoes mixed in, all swimming in the tangiest Italian dressing of your dreams. Highly recommended. We even took the leftovers home and added MORE lettuce, it was that dense with accoutrement.
Apparently, Loui’s history is intertwined with that of Buddy’s. My understanding is that the owner, Loui himself, once worked at Buddy’s, and then there was a schism in the world of Detroit-style pizza, and Loui’s version of Detroit-style pie was born. I don’t know the details. In fact, I just overheard patrons discussing it. Perhaps someone can shed some light on this intriguing tale of two pizzas.
Whatever the story – whether mundane restaurateur enterprise or salacious gourmand rivalry – the end result is more delicious pizza.
I will say, until another pizza place can capture my heart with such decisive deliciousness and simpatico setting, this will be my place to share with out-of-town guests when I want to show off how cool Detroit’s pizza really is…
23141 Dequindre Rd
Hazel Park, MI 48030-1600
Here’s the challenge: devour Detroit, one pizza at a time.
Inspired by a story on the best pizzas in metro Detroit, I have landed on a noble goal: get an accurate education in Detroit pizza.
My curriculum: two pizzas a month (at least) for a year.
My coursework: this blog.
In my research on Detroit pizza, I was pleased to discover that Detroit is considered by James Beard Award-winning food journalist Alan Richman to be the 3rd best pizza city in the nation, just behind New York and San Fran, and perhaps surprisingly (though not to me) above #4 Chicago.
Little known to Detroit dwellers and outsiders alike, there is a Detroit-style pizza. But the mix of cultures and influences means that there’s a great variety of pies available in the metro area, so our selection is not limited to this one execution — though it is a fine style, and one of my favorites.
We all know sharing is caring; I plan to share with you my impressions as I sample all the pizza I can get my mouth around. I am starting out with a list of pizza places that will undoubtedly grow as time goes on. Please send your suggestions for places to visit, and I’ll add them to the destinations list!
- Buddy’s Pizza
- Amici’s Pizza
- Loui’s Pizza
- Crust Pizza and Wine Bar
- Luigi’s Original
- Dan Good’s
- Cloverleaf Bar
- DiNoto’s Genuine Italian
- Green Lantern
- Tomatoes Apizza
- Hungry Howie’s
- Lucky Duck’s
- Fresh Farm’s Market
- Cottage Inn
- Brooklyn Pizza
- Pizza Cutter
- Bricks (added 9/10)
- Royal Oak Brewery (added 9/10/09)
- Red Devil (added 9/11/09)
- Bob’s Pizza (added 9/11/09)
- Papa Ramano’s (added 9/11/09)
- Little Ceasar’s (added 9/11/09)
- Nikki’s (added 9/21/09)
- Aubree’s (added 9/26/09)
- Jerusalem Pizza (added 9/28/09)
- Frank’s Restaurant and Pizzaria (added 11/5/09)
- Sportsmans Pizzeria (added 11/5/09)
- Geno’s Pizza (added 1/31/10)