Like a camera obscura built around a dinner table, Home Slice Pizza stays forever focused on its cuisine. Within the brick-lined establishment’s kitchen, chefs toss and fire large and extra-large thin-crust pizzas topped with ingredients as classic as pepperoni and anchovies or as original as artichoke hearts, seasoned steak, and A1 sauce. Under this flavor ornamentation lies the pizzas’ true foundation: cheese. Blends of mozzarella, feta, ricotta, cheddar, parmesan, and romano provide a solid base for creative ingredient combinations and add a gooey warmth to every bite. Not content to be confined to pizzas alone, cheese also douses orders of pan-baked cheese bread and supports focaccia subs flecked with herbs and stuffed with hot ham, turkey, bacon, and veggies.
For more than 12 years, Rivalrys has charmed palates with a range of bar cuisine at its neighborhood grill. Along with soups made from scratch, chefs whip up classic bar bites such as chili-topped nachos, philly-style cheesesteaks, and six types of burgers with pretzel buns. Offerings from the breakfast menu wake customers up more gently than dreams about The Simpsons getting canceled, and daily specials such as Burger Mondays and Taco Wednesdays give them the chance to fill up while maintaining a budget.
Owner Joe Skaff is well aware that Star Bar and Grille is off the beaten path. He doesn't begrudge its hideaway status, however—it lends the venue an air of exclusive mystique and allows for the two criteria he demanded when planning the place: ample parking and an impressive patio. In the spring, diners can embark past a wall of glass to sit outdoors, snacking on inventive flavored-fare. Their tables might host servings of pulled-pork quesadillas, a seared-tuna salad, or the popular surf 'n' turf tacos: grilled shrimp and flank steak in separate tortillas, divided by yellow rice and black beans.
Inside, a parade of televisions and low-hanging lights glint above the sunken bar. The walls behind them sport contemporary art in the form of undulating red panels, matching the lava-like color of the lamps suspended over nearby booths. These illuminate the weekend crowds drawn by DJ Matt Lewis, who reverberates the space with music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Weekdays, on the other hand, schedule a more relaxed scene of solo artists to supply dinner dates with catchy songs and one-man conga line performances. Star Bar’s ambiance is one of vibrant modernity, with inventive meals to match the crisp decor.
The Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani only honors the most authentic Neapolitan pizza with its seal of certification. The pies at 5th St. Pub make the cut. Perhaps it’s the dough recipe penned 150 years ago. Or maybe it’s the fresh veggies and imported Italian meats and cheeses that chefs pile on top of the menu’s traditional and creative pizzas. Regardless, a slice of margherita or bruschetta pesto pizza complements a craft beer or glass of wine.
You could argue that, as a self-proclaimed gastropub specializing in "burgers, bands, and bourbon," Bar 145 is not quite a cozy bar and not quite an upscale restaurant. Or, you could say that it offers the best of both worlds. The menu appeals to refined and socially responsible palates alike with local produce, cheese from Zingerman's Creamery in Ann Arbor, and all-natural, humanely raised beef from Niman Ranch. The line between fine dining and casual is further blurred when the waiter arrives at your table wearing red Chuck Taylor tennis shoes and holding a build-your-own burger atop, of all things, white china. Even the name Bar 145 is a hybrid: the first portion points to its hefty beer and bourbon reserves, and the 145 refers not to an address or the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a truffle french fry, but to the ideal temperature of a medium-rare burger.
The label-defying hot spot is also known for its live music, tuning up acoustic sets, dueling pianos, and full bands from Ohio and across the country six nights a week. Bar 145's musical roots run as deep as those of its chef, Robby Lucas, who once cooked dinner for Metallica after its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, according to the Toledo City Paper. The space itself leaves plenty of room for air-guitar solos at the 50-seat, oval-shaped bar on the outdoor patio.