The chefs at Vitale's whip up homemade sauces for a menu of classic Italian family recipes, which diners enjoy on the eatery's newly remodeled patio or in a comfortable dining room featuring more than 40 TVs. Meals can kick off with the diners' choice of soup or salad, or an appetizer such as shrimp scampi or italian nachos, which drown golden-brown fried cheese ravioli with creamy alfredo sauce and mozzarella cheese before sending the mouthwatering concoction to the oven to bake to gooey perfection.
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.
Michael Raymond, owner of Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery, has had a long relationship with the food industry. He can relate to any driver of an armored vehicle who long fantasized of one day manufacturing the gold bricks inside—while selling corrugated pizza boxes in West Michigan, Raymond dreamed of opening his own pizzeria, which he did in 2004. After many requests to incorporate fresh, local ingredients into his pizzas, he and his crew are able to top housemade crusts with locally acquired vegetables and meats procured from local butchers. Those ingredients inform the flavor of 19 specialty pies and 20 specialty subs.
Four side-by-side projectors line the wall at Flo's Pizzeria Ristorante, above cozy booths where guests feast on specialty pizzas, burgers, and pastas. The sports bar keeps game watching covered with additional televisions hanging above the bar. Along with draft beers, guests can also get growlers of their favorite brews.