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Italian in Macomb County (MI)?

  • j

OK, people often ask about Macomb County, and various ethnic cuisines are brought up. A few minutes' drive in much of the county will show you what one of the predominant ethnic groups is: Italians. This is a place where I went to an opera one time, and a guy in the lobby, who was straight out of "The Sopranos," motioned around the room and said to me, "All these people--they're in cement." So somewhere, there has to be a really superb but not super expensive Italian restaurant, with sauces that can stand with those in NYC and New Jersey, and cannolli that are not bricklike, and a pasta alla puttanesca that would indeed lure me off the street. Trouble is, I haven't found it yet. Any suggestions?

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  1. That's a good question. Though I live in Macomb, there's really nothing that comes to mind that isn't a local chain (and in that case, Andiamo's is pretty reliable). That said, there has to be some good Italian places in the southern part of the county, particularly in Warren.

    Outside of Macomb, I've heard good things about (but have never eaten at) Maria's Front Room in Ferndale, Il Posto in Southfield, and Antonio's Cucina Italiana in Dearborn. If you go to any of those, I'd love to hear how the food was.

    3 Replies
    1. re: zachary

      Luigi's. There's one in downtown Mt. Clemens and one on Jefferson in Harrison Twp. Try it and let us know what you think; I've never been disappointed.
      Maria's is fabulous, but not in Macomb.

      1. re: amandaqtpie

        Luigi's! I completely forgot. I've been to the Mt. Clemens location several times, and have always enjoyed their food. I second that recommendation.

      2. re: zachary

        We've always had excellent meals at Il Posto.

      3. There's Luciano's in Clinton Township, which is supposed to be good, though I haven't been. Of course, Salvatore Scallopini is a local chain with maybe 3 locations. It's fairly inexpensive and the food is pretty good. The Gratiot location, though in a strip mall, has a well-decorated interior. Not too far from Macomb County is Mario's in Troy. I've been there once. It seems to have a huge following (reservations recommended!), but the food seemed overpriced for what it was. If you're looking for more forward Italian cuisine, try Via Nove in Ferndale. The food is beautifully composed, but don't go there looking for spaghetti and meatballs, it's not that kind of place. Also there's Bacco's in Southfield, which was a recent 'Hour Detroit Restaurant of the Year', and priced accordingly.

        There used to be this great Italian coffeehouse in Clinton Township...I forgot was it was called, but they had the most amazing homemade gelato! It was filled with all these old Italian guys playing cards and watching soccer. I think it's a mobile phone store now...

        1 Reply
        1. re: keslacye

          In Macomb township I've enjoyed Giuseppi's(Hayes just south of 21 mile). It's a small and quiet family owned place in a strip mall that is surprisingly good. I've only been there twice, but have been pleased both times. Definately feels like an old fashioned family resturant. My favorite is still Picano's (Rochester Rd, south of Wattles). It's not Macomb county, but it's close and still one of the best italian in the area.

        2. i have a client in shelby and when we go out for lunch, it is usually at tirami su (on schoehnerr just north of 23 mile) - i think they have a couple of other places around town. not fantastic but solid food, decent prices, and good service. a worthy choice in the chain-rich lakeside mall area.

          1 Reply
          1. re: xman887

            I'd second the rec for Tirami Su in Shelby Twp. They did have another location on Garfield near 19, but last time I was over that way, it looked like it was being converted to a mexican restaurant.
            I'd also recommend Da Francesco on Van Dyke n of 22 in Shelby twp.

          2. We stopped at Luigi's Harrison TWP., restaurant (the Original) last week. Great, solicitious service, terrific food. Way, way overpriced. Dinner for two including three cocktails each, came to $106.00 (tip included). Pasta can't cost $30 a plate; no matter what it's paired with. This was a shock to the system because as kids we cruised out there in the '60s for good, cheap pizza pies. yeah, it's been almost 50 years, but price creep at Luigi's is outrageous

            5 Replies
            1. re: Griller

              You sure that you have your math correct? I'm assuming that your cocktails are about $7 per, and that you've tipped around 20%. So, let's start at $106. Subtract the MI sales tax, and you're down to a C note. Take the 20% tip out, and your bill is down to about $83. Now, the six cocktails are where you really get hurt: That bill is down to $41 all of a sudden. Divide that by two, and you're at basically $20 a plate. Depending on the venue, and on what's included in the price of the entree (soup? house salad? bread?), that isn't all that bad.

              Now, I realize that I may have oversimplified (perhaps you didn't tip 20%, or your cocktails were only $6 each, etc.), but there are those as-yet-unknown factors as mentioned above, as well as others (did you order an appetizer or two? did you get veal or seafood?). That being said, I'm not sure that I can buy into it being overpriced, although you may be correct.

              Am I oversimplifying?

              1. re: boagman

                Thanks for the reply, boag.

                You're just about on the money--forgive the bad pun--with the meal breakdown cost. My entree, a pasta Casino ran about $17.95. My wife's veal in red pepper cream sause, was, I think, $21.95.

                We did tip 20%.

                I think I was put off by the ambience of Original Luigi's more than anything else. I know it's beloved by it's "regulars", but it is a claustrophobic space in the tiny dining room, and doesn't have a fine-dining vibe that the menu prices reflect.

                1. re: Griller

                  "I think I was put off by the ambience of Original Luigi's more than anything else. I know it's beloved by it's "regulars", but it is a claustrophobic space in the tiny dining room, and doesn't have a fine-dining vibe that the menu prices reflect."

                  Well, that certainly is a fair statement to make. I just didn't want you to make a statement about the pricing that, on its face, didn't really appear accurate.

                  Have you thought about Giovanni's Ristorante on South Oakwood Blvd. (www.giovannisristorante.com)? You may find that to be more to your liking, as it's very well-regarded. If you want to go *really* upscale, well, Cafe Cortina in Farmington Hills (www.cafecortina.com) is probably going to be the top Italian experience that the Detroit area has to offer.

                  Sure, you have to drive a bit for either of these places, but hey: isn't it worth it?

                  1. re: boagman

                    Thanks for all the replies on this! When work takes me to Macomb I will try some of these places and report back. I do like Maria's (especially for romantic, cheap-date purposes) and Andiamo, and the city of Detroit definitely has some winners, including Roma and Giovanni's (when they manage not to burn the place down, which I think they recently did once again--has it reopened?). My personal favorite was the late, lamented Intermezzo.

                    1. re: Jim M

                      "Giovanni's (when they manage not to burn the place down, which I think they recently did once again--has it reopened?)"

                      Um, ow! Yes, it has burned down a couple of times, but *they've* never burned it down...

                      But yes, it is once again open, and it's extremely nice, and they're still making pasta again by hand.

            2. Hello All,
              I would have to agree with xman on Da Francesco on Van Dyke n of 22 in Shelby twp this is where your cement contractors can be seen. Actually there are two great Italian restaurants in that area Da Frencesco sits back in a strip mall a bit more upscale.

              Sitting on Van Dyke is Di Fratelli which is in its own building and is very good I highly recommend the Perch Picatta or the meatball Calzone, I have not had but they have a Tirami Su that is flown in from Italy and I have heard other diners raving about it.
              LINK: http://www.restaurant.com/microsite.a...

              Also someone mentioned Picano's in Troy across the street is a small family place in the strip mall cald Franco's very good Italian food.

              And if you want to go with white linen tables the grand piano and romance on Metro Pkwy or 16 mile just west of Van Dyke in Sterling Heights is Mezzaluna
              LINK: http://www.mezzalunaristorante.com/

              Hope this helps

              Gary

              1. The Shrimp Cremosi at Tiramisu is out of this world.

                1. The new Brio at Partridge Creek is very good. I've heard the lamb chops are great and the parmesan dressing is outstanding.