Friday, May 27, 2005


Just a picture I took in the garden yesterday.

John's "Family" Pizzeria

Some friends and I went to a new Italian restaurant last night in search of better pizza. I had stumbled upon John's while driving down Davison Road for an appointment and decided it might be worth a try. It was.

One might question whether the "Family" in quotes in the name was for the mob or more a family-style restaurant. It's definitely the latter. This restaurant is well-lit, has very homey decorations, including lighted plastic grapes (a nice touch) and odd, painted portraits. We were sure it wasn't a mob front when we saw they didn't have a liquor license and they carried chocolate milk. I hoped to see a mob boss or cappo, but all I saw were locals who walked to the restaurant from the neighborhood. I also noticed none of them ordered pizza, what we had gone to the restaurant for, and was a bit disconcerted. But the menu had many items I'd like to try, including "Baked Italian Favorites" like ravioli and vegetable lasagna. I really like baked pasta.

We sat in a large booth and often waited longer than I would have liked for service, but the server was nice. We ordered two large pizza and a appetizer combo plate. It came with the usual assortment of frozen snacks like onion rings, zucchini, mushrooms, and cheese. It was adequate; how can you screw up fried food? The pizzas, one with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and yellow peppers and the other with pineapple, green peppers, and ham, were decent. Nothing stood out as great except the crust, which was thin and very crisp. We loved that but collectively decided we preferred Luigi's toppings better.

We considered dessert but opted to go back to our friends' house and have ice cream and conversation.

I would be happy to go there again and try some of the other things on the menu, but I don't know if I will seek the place out.

Recommendation: Maybe, but it didn't set my heart aflutter.

Monday, May 23, 2005

World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth, MI

Okay, first let me state I'm not a big fan of Frankenmuth because it's primarily a tourist destination and home to the largest Christmas complex in the world. Why the Christian god decided to shine down on a small town in mid-Michigan, I don't know, but he did. And now we have Bronner's.

But more to the point of this post. My wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law all went to Frankenmuth to partake in the 10th Annual World Expo of Beers. Frankenmuth has large tents set up with 32 different beer booths. Brewers ranged from the juggernauts of Coors and Anhueser Busch to microbrewers like Dragonmead Microbrewery and Frankenmuth Brewery.

I avoided the larger brewers and focused on the small (and German). Overall I was pleased. A $1 ticket bought a 4 oz. sample, and the brewers were generous with the pour (occasionally forgetting to take my ticket). They even had a few booths with food and souvenirs.

We stayed nearly 2 hours at the Expo. We didn't stay for the music, and we sadly missed Beer School. But we had seen what we wanted and tasted what we wanted, so we decided to venture into the main strip of Frankenmuth to act like the tourists we were.

On the strip, we wandered into shops and enjoyed a perfectly warm sunny day. We ate at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and had their "famous" chicken dinner. It's really good fried chicken and it comes with lots of other goodies, like stuffing (good tasting -- soggy texture), mashed potatoes (good --how can you screw those up?), and three "salads" that included a bean salad, pasta salad, and some kind of cranberry-orange relish-type salad (very good and refreshing). The meal is finished with a small bowl of ice-cream.

As tourists we had a good time sampling candy and cheeses. If you haven't been to Frankenmuth, it's worth a visit just to see what it's like. If you can time it during one of Frankenmuth's festivals it's even better. I don't recommend going any time near Christmas (Nov. 1 - Jan. 15) when things seem a bit crazier there. I still have never been to the enormous Bronner's CHRISTmas complex, so I can't recommend it either. But if you like fried chicken and have some good friends to go with, it's worth a trip every few years.

As a last note, we stopped at my wife's grandmother's house for visit and got a homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie. They are amazing. My favorite pie after having hers. Sorry, you'll have to get your grandmother to make it. I'm not sharing.