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.
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.
At Frankie's, chefs coat fresh pizza dough in red, alfredo, or barbecue sauce before sprinkling it with a fine blend of italian cheeses. They then blanket the pies with a choice from more than 20 toppings—one for each pizza it takes to feed a rugby team or a Venetian parking meter. The topping roster includes such delicious embellishments as sliced roast beef and basil, and once they've been added to the pies, the chefs bake them in a stone oven. The care that Frankie's staff takes with its pizzas is similar in magnitude to the selection of its menu's pastas and sandwiches, such as the baked rigatoni and the buffalo-chicken sandwich.
The bistro menu at Pinstripes can be served on the lanes and courts, in the dining room, or on the outdoor patio. Fill the first frame of your meal with a small plate such as the antipasto and cheese platter ($12). Pizzas such as the sweet and savory prosciutto fig flatbread ($12) arrive on wooden planks fresh from the wood-fire brick oven. An extensive wine list taps straight into Pinstripes' cavernous wine cellar. The candy-coated chocolate martini made with real Godiva chocolate ($9) is a perfect chaser for chocolaty house-made s'mores ($6). Pinstripes' Sunday- brunch spread includes a custom Bloody Mary bar and a magical chocolate fountain where strawberries and marshmallows bathe in nummy nectar (adults $22, kids $12).
“You feel like you’re in a museum, or some other metropolis hotspot,” a reporter for the Minnesota Monthly said after a visit to My Burger. The article went on to praise the menu, applauding “beefy, thin burgers with good, sweet, fresh buns.” Each quarter-pound burger is prepared fresh to order, with standard toppings as well more adventurous options such as Cajun bacon. Amid crackling décor infused with pop-art influences, patrons also swap in patties made of fish, chicken, turkey, or veggies like the best friend of a lonely chef.
The staff also claims they have their french-fry process down to a science, which may be true: they were listed in Citypages’ Top 10 French Fries in the Twin Cities in 2012. Robin’s-egg-blue stand mixers churn out fresh malts in chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry, and glasses click together at the small bar, spilling rivulets of wine, hard ciders, and draft Surly.
It started with a single store, opened in Fridley, Minnesota in 1964. But Dick Kempe's pizza proved too tasty for one outpost, and Chanticlear Pizza eventually spread to 14 locations in the following years. And although Dick no longer owns the pizzerias, his uncompromising standards for quality pies remain in place. Fresh dough is mixed up and hand-tossed daily. Vegetables are chopped each morning. Instead of adding sugar to their sauce, the chefs rely on the tomatoes' natural, charm school-perfected sweetness. And the from-scratch foundation is always topped with house-shredded, 100% Wisconsin mozzarella cheese.
Once the dough and sauce are ready, Chanticlear Pizza's chefs continue the process by loading them with meats and veggies. The selection of toppings range from shrimp and bacon pieces to a secret-recipe pickle blend. A splash of spicy, bourbon-tinged molasses or chunky salsa can add additional pizzazz to pizzas. Beyond circular eats, polygonal dishes as pastas, calzones, and sides of buffalo wings and garlic toast populate the menu.