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+).
Cooks at Amicci's Pizza's two locations crown giant 24-inch pies with italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto before delivery drivers chauffeur orders straight to homes and dorm rooms. The cooks begin with a flavored crust, such as garlic butter, sesame seed, Cajun, or mantel, then top the pizza with a custom blend of fresh veggies, meats, and cheeses. Specialty combinations include the pesto delight topped with mozzarella, mushroom, and tomato and the chicken thai pie with sweet 'n' spicy ginger sauce, red peppers, and mushrooms. The cooks also pile oven-baked 14-inch subs with steak and au jus or italian meatballs covered with pasta sauce.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.