Italian food

D’Amato’s Italian

Located on Sherman Dr. in Downtown Royal Oak, MI is D’Amato’s Italian restaurant. D’Amato’s is dishing out authentic Italian classics including pasta, pizza, entrees, and charcuterie (meat board). D’Amato’s also offers daily specials including dinner and drink specials. They offer a full bar including craft cocktails and an extensive wine list. Josh and I came here to celebrate my new position. See how they ranked.

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Atmosphere: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Price: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites (menu and drinks)

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The bread was really tasty: Fresh, buttery, and warm. The balsamic dipping oil was good, but the first time I think we added a little too much balsamic because it was strong. Next time, I won’t let Josh do the pouring (wink, wink).

Moscow Mule (Blueberry): House Blueberry Infused Vodka, Ginger Beer and Fresh Lemon Juice. The blueberry added a nice brightness to this classic cocktail. It was refreshing and light, but I was definitely feeling buzzed off just one! Ha.

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Minestrone Soup: Traditional Italian vegetable soup with pasta and beans. Nice hearty soup with a rich broth. Minestrone is Josh’s favorite and he always orders it when we get Italian. This was one of the better minestrone’s I’ve had.

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Italian Chili: This was the soup of the day. It was rich, hearty, with a little spice. If I remember correctly, it had pieces of short rib in it which made it extra decadent. The onion straws and sour cream on top added a little extra.

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Beef Short Rib & Butternut Squash Pasta: Tender, beef short rib meat, piled on top of fettucine in a butternut squash sauce. This was the special recommended by our service so I went with it. It was amazing! The butternut squash was sweet and creamy. The beef was so tender that it melted in my mouth. If given the opportunity, order this dish!

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Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells: Spinach stuffed shells covered with a rich Alfredo sauce. The sauce was creamy and delicious. The stuffed shells were good, but the spinach to cheese ratio was off. I would have liked more cheese and a little less spinach.

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The service was good and I really liked the feel of the dining room. There was enough natural light to brighten things up, but at night, D’Amato’s has a sort of sexy ambience. The upscale Italian restaurant shares the space with it’s neighbor, Goodnight Gracie Martini bar. At night, this bar doubles as a club, with live entertainment, dancing, DJ’s, and even Jazz music. D’Amato’s has what seems like a never ending Whiskey menu. They are offering bourbon, scotch, Irish whiskey, Rye, you name it! I thought this was really impressive for an Italian restaurant. The food was pretty good and the prices are pretty reasonable. You can’t beat $5 Cosmo’s and half off pizza/pasta for the ladies on Friday nights. D’Amato’s also offers brunch including bottomless Mimosa’s and a Bloody Mary bar. If you haven’t tried D’Amato’s, stop in and try out the Prime Rib!

D'Amato's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Joey’s Famous Philly Cheesesteaks

Located on Northline Rd in Southgate, MI, is Joey’s Famous Philly Cheesesteaks. With a menu consisting of cheese steaks, pizza, hoagies, salads, and Italian & Sicilian favorites, Joey’s has a something to satisfy any craving. I really liked that there were a lot of different types of cheese steaks (more than 15) and sides. Joey’s also offers pizza and cheese steak “sushi” which includes your choice of  toppings and homemade dough rolled into pin wheels and baked. The sushi is even served with sauce to dip and chopsticks. Very unique and creative! The Chipotle sweet potato and seasoned waffle fries sounded delicious as well. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 2.5 out of 5 bites

Price: 3 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 1.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

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“The Guido” cheesesteak: Steak, Giardiniera pepper mix, onions & Provolone cheese. The bread was really good, soft and fresh with a slight chew. The steak was tender, but extremely salty which ruined the whole sandwich. It was really hard to enjoy the cheese steak because of the overwhelming amount of salt and I couldn’t finish it.

joeys cheesesteak

Service was good, but the experience was disappointing. This really bummed me out because I have been wanting to try Joey’s for a while. It would really help if the hours of operation were posted for customers. I don’t know if I just ordered the “wrong” cheese steak or if it was just a fluke experience, but I do believe that Joey’s has a good thing going. They just need to ease up on the sodium and let the cheese steaks do the talking.

Stay tuned for my next write-up showcasing my escapades and adventures in Dallas, TX!

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Food Tasting @ Olive Garden

Josh and I were lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive food tasting @ Olive Garden in Ann Arbor, MI last week. Olive Garden’s culinary geniuses were looking for feedback on their latest and most significant menu evolution in OG history. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing more customizable options. See how they ranked!

Atmosphere: 4 out of bites

Price: 3.5 out 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites

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We started off with a drink…

Italian Margarita: Sauza Gold Tequila, triple sec and imported Italian amaretto. Light, refreshing, and dangerous because you cannot taste the alcohol. The sweetness from the amaretto balances the sourness from the margarita. Highly recommended!

Italian Margherita

Out of a 10 course food tasting, Josh and I decided to share our favorites.

Crispy Risotto Bites: A bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served with marinara sauce. Perfectly crispy and not greasy. The marinara was flavorful and the perfect sidekick. Great for sharing!

Risotto Bites

Artichoke Fritta: Artichoke hearts lightly battered and fried, topped with Italian cheeses, Served with citrus aioli dipping sauce. Even though the artichoke hearts were fried, this appetizer was very light. The artichoke has a slightly lemony and sour element that brightened up the texture. The citrus aioli sauce was what made this dish: delectable!

Articoke Fritta

Salmon Bruschetta: Grilled filet topped with fresh tomatoes and basil pesto. Served on a seafood risotto with sauteed shrimp. Although we’re not huge seafood fans (Josh even less than I), this salmon was amazing. Cooked and seasoned perfectly and extremely fresh! The creamy and silky risotto was the perfect pairing.

Salmon bruschetta with shrimp risotto

Citrus Chicken Sorrento: (Lighter Italian Fare, under 575 calories). Tender, grilled chicken breasts in a citrus honey glaze, inspired by the city of Sorrento, famous for it’s lemon groves. Served with lightly seasoned broccoli, artichokes and roasted vegetables. The sweet citrus and lemon flavor was light, yet satisfying. The chicken was tender, juicy, and succulent.

Citrus Chicken Sorrento

Braised Beef and Tortelloni: Tender slices of slow-braised beef, portobello mushrooms, and asiago-filled tortelloni tossed in a basil-marsala sauce. OMG! Hands down, the best thing we’ve ever eaten! The beef was so tender and absorbed so much of that slightly sweet basil-marsala sauce. The tortelloni was perfectly cooked, and filled with buttery asiago cheese that just melted in your mouth. Although this dish was slightly heavy, it was comforting, exquisite and so worth it!

Braised Beef Tortelloni

Apple Tuscan Bread Pudding: (Seasonal dessert)-Warm, rustic Italian bread pudding baked with York Imperial applies, then topped with caramel and a rich vanilla cream. Now, I would normally gravitate towards a chocolate dessert or cheesecake for an after dinner delight, but this bread pudding is good! A nice crusty top with a moist, soft center. This is the perfect dessert to warm you up right before you venture out into the Michigan cold. The vanilla cream is the perfect finishing touch and really compliments the bread pudding well.

Tuscan Apple Bread Pudding

Some of the other menu features include Spicy Three Meat Sauce part of Cucina Mia (customize your pasta), Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper, Mediterranean Flatbread, Spicy Calabrian Wings, and Pappardella Pescatore seafood entree.

The OG staff and organizers of the food tasting were really great and took the time to explain each dish and interact with the food tasters. Service was good as always and the staff was very accommodating. A big thank you goes out to the the staff at Olive Garden and Costa Communications Group! We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, if you want good Italian that never disappoints, go to Olive Garden. This new menu is the best we’ve had at OG so stop wasting your time with mediocre. Get to Olive Garden now and experience decadence.

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

Ciao Amici's

Today on the Bite Tonight: Ciao Amici’s Italian Restaurant.

My brother is in town for Houston so he decided to rent a lake house in Brighton instead of a hotel. On our way back from a full family day, we decided to grab some grub. Ciao Amici’s is located on Main St. in Brighton. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Price: 3 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3 out of 5 bites

Service: 3 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

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Emigila Romagna: Sliced Italian sausage, tri-colored peppers & onions baked with crushed garlic. The huge hunks of Italian sausage were a surprise and I would’ve preferred them to be cut smaller. Flavor was on point and the crust was crispy and chewy.

italian sausage pizza

Classic Pizza: House blend mozzarella and pepperoni. Nice sauce to pie ratio. Classic, simple, yet comforting.

pepperoni pizza

We stopped in to Ciao Amici’s around 4 pm Monday and it was completely empty. Service was good, but we sat at the bar and waited for our pies to be done then took it back to the lake house. The prices were a bit higher than your average carryout pizza joint, but that’s expected when you get carryout from an Italian restaurant. Stop in and check em out!

The best part of the lake house was a bonfire equipped with smores!

Classic smore

smore

Chocolate banana smore. Now, this is where it get’s interesting. My brother had a great idea to soak a banana in Jamison Irish whiskey (no rum on hand) then roll it in sugar and caramelize it over the fire. It was awesome with chocolate in between a graham cracker!

banana smore

It was a great trip and I was sad to come back home! Thanks to my family for some great company.

lake house view

Ciao Amici's on Urbanspoon

Dago Joe Italian Catering & Buffy's Mexi-casian Grill

Today on the Bite Tonight: Food trucks!

In my opinion, food truck’s are where it’s at. This past weekend was my work Summer party @ Campus Martius and I was thrilled because instead of buffet food, they offered food truck selections. When it comes to Dago Joe’s, they are doing delicious Italian favorites like no other. Buffy’s Mexi-casian Grill marries impressive Mexican and American cuisine. Check it out.

 Dago Joe’s Meatballs: Giant flavorful meatballs topped with spicy marinara. Dago Joe’s advertises the best meatballs around and I would agree. Both the meatballs and marinara were bursting with incredible flavor. You could really taste the love and passion in the food. Amazing!  Check out the meatball sandwich.

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Dago Joe Italian on Urbanspoon

Buffy’s Mexi-casian Grill’s Chicken Chimichanga: Deep fried tortilla stuffed with chicken and topped with lettuce tomato, guacamole cream sauce, and spicy sauce. First of all, I just want to point out that everyone was ordering these and they looked so good that it was turning heads and sparking interest. When I ordered mine, the taste was as up there as the presentation. Crispy, fresh, spicy, and cool. I’ve never had a chimichanga that tasted so good. It wasn’t greasy and the chicken was marinated and had such a good flavor.

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The party itself was entertaining, but of course, I  look forward to the food. If you are ever Downtown Detroit, stop by Campus Martius for lunch and visit the food truck scene. You won’t be disappointed.
Buffy's Mexi-Casian Grill on Urbanspoon

Bistro Bella Vita

Today on the Bite Tonight: Bistro Bella Vita

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Located down the street from Founder’s Brewing Co. is Bistro Bella Vita. Specializing in Mediterranean country cuisine, they offer a menu consisting of brick oven pizza, seafood, pasta, specialty dishes, and as many made from scratch and local options as possible. Josh and I decided to celebrate our anniversary here. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 bites

Price: 2 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3 out of 5 bites

Service: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 1 out of 5 bites

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Four Cheese Ravioli: House-made four cheese and spinach ravioli with vine-ripened tomatoes, onions, garlic, spinach and extra virgin olive oil in a white wine-butter sauce with balsamic reduction. The ravioli were tender and home made, which I appreciated, but could’ve used more sauce. The balsamic reduction was a nice touch adding  a complex flavor, balancing out the cheeses.

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Rotini Con Pollo: Spiral shaped pasta, roasted chicken, pesto cream sauce and parmesan cheese topped with pine nuts. The pesto was overwhelming, but tasty. I didn’t like that the chicken was shredded instead of sliced. Not something I would order again for $20 a plate.

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I thought the food at Bistro Bella Vita was just OK, nothing spectacular. The overall atmosphere was nice, not too upscale with a warm ambiance. Price and portion size were poor, but service was good. Unfortunately, I’ve had better Italian at popular chain restaurants which was disappointing. However, it was still a good night. Happy Anniversary, Boo!

Bistro Bella Vita on Urbanspoon

Buddy's Restaurant Pizzeria

Located on Michigan Ave in Downtown Dearborn, Buddy’s is one of the best sit down pizza places in the area. With a menu consisting of gluten free options, local beers, and Italian favorites, Buddy’s has been featured on Hour Magazine’s “Best” list. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 bites

Price: 3 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3 out of 5 bites

Service: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

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Oven-Baked Cheese & Bacon Fries: Seasoned wedge cut fries, layered with a cheddar and mozzarella blend, topped with bacon.   I like that the bacon tasted like fresh bacon, not bacon bits out of a jar. I also liked that the fries were wedges, this allowed for a strong foundation to catch all the cheesy, salty goodness.

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Although Buddy’s has a large variety of specialty pizza’s, we decided on getting creative and composing our own:

Pepperoni, Ham, Onions, Roasted Garlic, & Asiago & Mozzarella Cheese Blend. I loved how the cheese got all browned and caramelized around the edges. The garlic was present, but not overpowering. My only beef with this pizza is that I would’ve liked it cooked a little longer. Nothing is worse than a doughy-undercooked deep dish pizza. Pizza Papalis is famous for this. Yuck!

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If you’re looking for a good dine in pizzeria, check out Buddy’s. They were voted #1 for Detroit’s Best Square Pizza since 1946.

Buddy's Restaurant & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon