The sound of Laura Provenzano calling out "Mangia, mangia!" would send her children running to the table, their stomachs growling in anticipation of the hearty Italian feast ahead. Today, her great-grandchildren carry on the family tradition at Provenzano's Ristorante, where they whip up a menu of the family's classic Italian dishes infused with a few tasty American additions. Within the restaurant's warm, spacious dining room, glasses of Italian wine meet with plates of pasta and pizzas, along with American-style burgers with Italian flourishes, such as shaved prosciutto. Come Sunday, a lengthy brunch buffet stretches across the floor, simmering with platters of freshly made selections.
More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.
Jimmy's Pizza serves up piping-hot pies for delivery, take-out, or in-restaurant wolf-downs. Accept an extra-large pizza with all the blushing and gushing of a movie star accepting complimentary airline pretzels, then garnish it with three toppings of your choice, from old favorites to avant-garde specials such as shrimp or sauerkraut. Savory Jimmy stix lend a chewy twist with twirls of pizza dough brushed with butter, garlic, and parmesan, served with a cool pool of pizza sauce. End the meal with cinnamon sticks, the Jimmy stix doppelganger covered in cinnamon butter and served alongside whipped frosting for dipping or flinging at the unwanted advances of concupiscent sugar cookies.
Hit-N-Run occupies vacant spots on both plates and stomachs with hearty, made-to-order third-pound burgers blanketed with premium toppings. Tuck into specialty burgers such as the Rodeo burger, which ropes a bucking combination of fried onions, bacon, cheddar cheese, and homemade barbecue sauce ($8), or the Big Bad Bob burger ($7), topped with a secret sauce made from a recipe developed during a failed government attempt at bottling James Stewart's boyish charm. Rounding out the meal, each burger comes with a side of homemade, fresh-cut fries ($2).
In 1962, Lawrence William Yanz opened Hastings Bierstube, where he dished out German delicacies such as bratwursts, Reubens, and 6-ounce sirloin steaks. After his passing in 1983, his sons, Jim and Mike, started two new locations before forming a fourth with a family friend. The sons expanded Hastings Bierstube’s already extensive menu, introducing the Taste of Deutschland sampler platter, which features a selection of wienerschnitzel, sauerbraten, and house-made spaetzle.
Along with slinging authentic cuisine, the owners send lucky diners on vacations to Germany during giveaways, which fall on special occasions such as Oktoberfest and David Hasslehoff’s half birthday. For visitors remaining on American shores, the restaurants host weekly events, including bingo, open mics, karaoke, and live music.
From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of 27 juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.