In the restaurant which tied for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2009 by HOUR Detroit, head chef and owner Norberto Garita blends his Mexican heritage with experience in Italian kitchens to craft El Barzon's menus of Italian and Mexican dishes. Diners can embark on the culinary excursion with the zuppa di vongole brimming with clams and shrimp swimming in tomato broth ($12) and the chilies rellenos packed with beef or cheese and drizzled with homemade tomato sauce ($7). Ham and cheese snuggle like a knight and his chain-mail blanket inside a lightly breaded chicken breast in the pollo El Barzon ($16), and Mediterranean-imported sea bass rests under a layer of fresh herbs and garlic ($25). Guests can also sample classic international dishes such as homemade italian pastas ($12+) and mexican tortas ($5+).
Like chili popsicles and videos of grizzly-bear ballerinas, Italian food is enjoyed around the world due to its versatility and heartiness. The menus at Cariera's are drawn from globally pleasing Italian recipes, and the pastas are homemade. Begin a meal in traditional fashion with an antipasto of steamed mussels ($10.25), calamari Cariera (the family recipe—sautéed squid in lemon butter sauce with tomatoes, onion, and capers, $11.25), or bruschetta ($5.25, add mozzarella, $7.25) and a glass of Chianti Classico Reserva ($10). Settling the debate over whether or not to order pasta, all entrees at Cariera's that aren't made with pasta come with a side of pasta, so you can order your lasagna ($13.25), bistecca di lombo di vitello (chargrilled veal chop with cherry-balsamic reduction, $22), or pollo frangelico (almond-encrusted chicken breasts with Frangelico cream sauce, $15.25) with confidence. A glass of grappa is a fitting dessert as the sun sets on Cariera's breezy outdoor patio ($6).
Steeped in tradition, Mario’s Restaurant has served up old-school Italian cuisine since 1948, when it opened as a casual but luxurious supper club. The crystal chandeliers cast warm light on tables covered in white linens, which attentive servers top with a vegetable and relish tray the moment diners are seated. As chefs prepare house specialties tableside, the dining room fills with the rich aromas of buttery broiled lobster tails, veal piccante, and fresh pasta sauce. Guests can also take a whirl on the dance floor during ballroom-dancing sessions on weekends.
Tossing dough disks since 1946, Sam's Pizzeria and Cantina whips up classic Italian standbys updated with the kitchen's own modern innovations. Pizza creations range from individual-size thin-crust offerings bearing various combinations of tomato sauce, mozzarella, seafood, and vegetable toppers to more shareable options ($9.65–$15.95). Among the latter, Sam's special presents a mélange of pepperoni, ham, and bacon garnished with mushrooms and green peppers ($19.50 for a medium), and The Mexican aims to satisfy Latin American cravings by incorporating salsa, sour cream, and telenovela-level emoting ($19.50).