Just like with burgers, I can be real hard to please with pizza. Being from the Chicago area, I have a mental image of what pizza should be. It can be hard to go somewhere and not compare their pizza with our favorite pizza from back home. Still, we try to put all that aside and seek out the best pizza joint wherever it is we’re living.
Our quest took us to Martini’s Pizza on Westnedge and Village Street in Kalamazoo’s Vine Neighborhood. It was one of the first pizza joints other than Bilbo’s that was recommended to us, but it was recommended with a warning. The service sucks, but the pizza is delicious.
I knew Martini’s was on Westnedge but I just couldn’t picture the place. When I looked it up on Google Maps, I was even more confused. We drive that stretch of Westnedge all the time. How could I miss a restaurant?
We headed down Westnedge just past Vine and I started looking. There was no sign anywhere to be found. There is a really nice looking building on the corner with an Italian mural painted on one side, so that must be it.
I went around the block and found a parking spot along Westnedge. Martini’s is pretty heavily entrenched in a neighborhood so there really aren’t any surface parking lots. You’re going to have to find street parking and I’m fine with that. Parking lots don’t belong in neighborhoods. You can walk a couple blocks. It’s good for you.
We walked up to the building and still no signs. I looked all over the building thinking there must be something, but nope. Not even on the entry door. They have the hours of operation, but no logo or any indication that we were walking in to the right place.
The “front” of the building actually faces Village Street. There’s a small patio area right in the corner. The entrance is more towards the back of the building.
We went in and figured out we were in the right place when we could see the pizza ovens working in the kitchen. There’s a hostess station right up front and a dining room directly to the right. The front part of the dining room is the main area. The back part near the kitchen has the bar and a handful of pub tables. That’s where we were seated.
We walked in just before 6:00 on a Saturday night and already we got one of the last tables. The place was packed. I had read a few reviews that the joint was loud, but I didn’t really think so. J had a little bit of a hard time getting in the chair, but other than that, neither one of us really had a problem with the atmosphere. J commented on the stained glass that was used as decoration throughout. I thought it had a stereotypical Tuscan Villa feel to it. Not cheesy, but not super original either.
We were given a drink menu and food menus by a hostess then another lady came over with two small glasses of water and a blue soda bottle looking thing with more water. We were given plenty of time to look over the menus while we waited for our waitress. At that point, we had a bad feeling this meal was going to go bad, but the feelings turned out to be unjustified.
When the waitress did finally get to us, we put in both our drink orders and our food order. J got a Very Berry Martini while I got a pint of Point Special. Like I’ve mentioned before, micro-brews aren’t my thing, but I’ve actually had this beer from Stevens Point (WI) Brewery before. It’s an American-style lager which is about all I drink. J really liked her martini. It had Sprite and lemonade as mixers. She said it wasn’t heavy on the liquor, so it actually tasted good.
For dinner, J started with a small Martini’s House Salad. It’s a pretty basic salad with romaine lettuce, scallion, tomato, and cucumber with an Italian vinaigrette and Romano cheese. The small salad was pretty large and looked good even to me. There was so much grated cheese. She ate a pretty good chunk, but picked around the tomatoes.
As for the pizza, we got a 16″ with pepperoni on half. Our table was pretty small and we were wondering how a pizza was going to fit on the table. Before the pizza came out, the waitress brought a decorated coffee can and set it on the table. She then came out with a spoon and asked if that would be alright to use as a server because all of the pie servers were dirty. It didn’t really matter to us. We’re married. We can use our hands.
The pizza came out about fifteen minutes or so after we ordered. The first thing we noticed was the crust. It was a really good thin crust that was nice and crispy around the edges. There was some cornmeal on the bottom which adds another layer of flavor.
After taking a bite, it immediately reminded me of a place back home. There’s a chain in Central Illinois called Monicals Pizza and to me, this was a dead ringer for that pizza. That’s not a bad thing. Monicals was my family’s go to place. J said it reminded her of our favorite pizza place in Chicago, Palermo’s 95th. The reason we like Palermo’s is the sweet sauce. Martini’s Pizza also had a sweet sauce…not quite as sweet as Palermo’s, but sweet nonetheless.
We had planned on taking a few slices home for lunch tomorrow, but that didn’t happen. When we got down to four slices, we both kind of stared at them wanting more, but wanting to be good. We gave in to temptation. I took the two bigger pieces. J took the two smaller pieces and we finished it off. It was that good.
Our bill was just over $35 before tip, but $11 of that was drinks. We must have been fortunate because we didn’t experience the bad service that so many people have told us about. We were in and out in just a little over an hour. We were both pretty happy with the pizza which ranks up there with the best we’ve had in Kalamazoo. They don’t do delivery, but the do carry-out. Now that I know where’s it, we’ll be able to put Martini’s into our pizza rotation.