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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.

Detroit Pizza - Dinoto's

Cheerful storefront is your first clue that this is gonna be some swell pizza.

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.

Detroit Pizza - Dinoto's pictures

Family photos proudly on display are more evidence of a strong tradition behind DiNoto's

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.

Detroit Pizza - Dinoto's Pino's White Vegetable Pizza

Pino's White Vegetable Pizza

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.

Detroit Pizza - Dinoto's Sicilian Pizza

DiNoto's Sicilian Pizza

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.

Detroit Pizza - Cute Dinoto's counter area

Cute, homey counter area. Note the stacks of 'S' cookies on left!

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

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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.

Green Lantern Lounge - pub

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.

Green Lantern Lounge - lamp

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).

Green Lantern Lounge - Greek SaladGreek salad – generous portions!

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.

Green Lantern Lounge - Pizza Pie

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.

Green Lantern Lounge - pizza slice

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)