The Noto family, starting their culinary career by selling candy and hot dogs at its video arcade in 1979, have since evolved into a full-service Italian restaurant. Intent on recreating homey, rustic cuisine that could have come from a family kitchen, the chefs rely on a seasonally rotating selection of ingredients, which they both source from local farmers and import from Italy. In order to make meatballs, italian sausage, and mozzarella in-house, they rely on generations-old family recipes that were passed down, much like the family's formula for creating critically acclaimed Mad Libs.
Although the dining room surrounds guests with olive-hued walls, sturdy columns, and a collection of framed landscapes, the downstairs wine cellar tempts parties with a smattering of tables amid the space's intimately lit brick archways. This room also shelters the restaurant's 10,000-bottle-strong wine list, which includes more than 1,100 Italian wines and garnered yet another Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2014.
Urban Pizza's chefs slather dough with sauce, cheese, and toppings, but stop short of the oven. From here, customers take over, inserting the uncooked pies into a home oven or Mount Doom. Urban Pizza prides itself on the freshness of its take-and-bake pies, slathering each one in a traditional Italian sauce or a white sauce infused with garlic and ranch. Upon this foundation, they layer meats, veggies, and cheeses. They tread on gourmet territory with add-ons including artichoke hearts and spinach and appeal to lighter tastes with freshly tossed salads. The majority of desserts combine nuggets of candy and swirls of ice cream. Among more decadent options, Urban Pizza's chocolate-covered cheesecake wears a dense, dark coat of molten chocolate.
For more than 40 years, Vitale’s Pizza’s staff has baked hand-tossed specialty pizzas loaded with a subset of more than 20 toppings. The capicola-laden Italiano pizza presents a cuisine sample of Europe’s most Italian-speaking peninsula, whereas the taco pizza’s tomato-, olive-, and onion-loaded slices offer a Mexican-styled culinary experience within the eatery’s seven-table dining area. To complement the restaurant’s syllabus of specialty pies, the oven-baked roast-beef sub quells belly rumblings with mayo and fresh mozzarella, and a bowl of spaghetti with the house’s signature meat sauce acts as an inconspicuous treasure vault for a shoestring thief.
Joe V’s Sports Bar builds a menu of pub fare and Chicago-style pizzas on a foundation of homemade dough, sauce, and Italian cheeses. Pizzas are constructed with the clean lines of minimalist cheese ($9.29 for 12”) or the ornately decorated Super Deluxe pizza ($16.79 for 12”), which brings along its entourage of pepperoni, sausage, ham, mushrooms, onions, olives, and green peppers to shower it in flavor and compliments. Homemade potato chips ($2.99) crisp just quietly enough to avoid interrupting the sounds waves of live music or karaoke as they dance through the air. An olive-swiss burger ($7.99) is made from a half pound of Black Angus beef and paired with fries. Strewn liberally with televisions, Joe V’s lives up to its title of sports bar by displaying games and spontaneously producing basketballs every evening.
Named one of the city's most romantic restaurants by Grand Rapids Magazine, Tre Cugini ensnares the senses by pairing its rustic décor of exposed brick walls and crisp white linens with authentic Italian cuisine. Bartenders pour from an expansive list of wines and shake cocktails to tunes from the gleaming grand piano, whetting appetites for cooked-to-order risotto and house-made desserts. Friendly staffers teach basic Italian phrases on request and host monthly wine events, allowing patrons to applaud a varietal's flavor in its native handclap. During warmer months, guests can flock to the outdoor patio to savor fruity sips beneath colorful striped umbrellas:
Joe Lombardo founded Joe's Pizza King almost 40 years ago, when he began feeding his family-recipe pizza to friends, neighbors, and local families. Today, Joe's son Jim keeps the heirloom recipes and family traditions alive, whipping up hearty subs and baked pastas, as well as tasty pizzas available in sizes up to 2 feet in diameter.