Vito’s Italian Restaurant and Bar is part eatery, part arcade. Pool and air-hockey tables populate the floor, and video games like Golden Tee provide kids and adults alike with hours of fun—or just the few minutes it takes to get a table. The restaurant even has a crane machine for players to try to nab a stuffed animal or a stuffed pepperoni. A jukebox plays popular tunes while diners refuel with hand-tossed thin-crust pizzas and deep-dish pies. Chefs can customize crusts with garlic butter or Cajun seasoning, depending on patrons' whims; they top specialty pizzas with grilled chicken, bacon, and ranch dressing, to name just one. The menu also offers burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and the popular Goofy Bread—plain dough baked with garlic butter, mozzarella, and parmesan.
The family-owned Toarmina's has served up its signature sweet sauce and gullet-stuffing, 24-inch pies since 1987. The menu boasts traditional pizzas ranging from the small one-topping ($8.99) to the two-footer with three toppings ($24.39)—a favorite at giant-division ultimate frisbee leagues. The casual eatery's aromatic ovens also cook up deep dish ($11.99–$13.99) and specialty picks such as the steak and cheese ($12.49–$28.99), which blankets melted mozzarella and american cheese over steak, mushrooms, onions, and golden italian dressing, and the veggie ($11.49–$25.99), a garden party of mushrooms, black olives, diced green peppers, and onions.
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).
Roma Café started out as a one-woman operation way back in 1888. The Marazza family ran a boarding house for Eastern Market farmers, and Mrs. Marazza would always serve a hot meal to anyone who stayed. Word of her cooking skills spread quickly throughout the Eastern Market area, and her various fans convinced her to open an official restaurant. In February of 1890, Roma Café was born.
Its continuing commitment to classic recipes is apparent from one glance at the menu, where housemade pastas share space with veal scaloppine and broiled lobster tails. Adventurous eaters will be drawn to dishes such as the sauteed sweetbreads and frog legs, and wine enthusiasts can browse an extensive list of reds, whites, and specials.
Although the baked lasagna and chicken parmigiana are certainly Old World staples, Roma Café hasn't become mired in tradition. Its third-generation owner, Janet Sossi Belcoure, takes regular trips to Italy that keep her up-to-date on culinary trends and the latest gossip on who's dating Michelangelo's David. The restaurant also offers an all-you-can-eat buffet on Monday nights, complete with appetizers, pasta dishes, and cannoli. If you stop by on the night of a Red Wings game, there's even a shuttle that will take you to the arena.
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.
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+).