Another weekend. Another trip to the Kensington Valley Outlet Mall in Howell. After our last trip to Howell when we ate at The Bloated Goat Saloon (review HERE) in Fowlerville, someone suggested in comments that we try out Tomato Bros. J asked if it was the place we always drive by on Grand River, but I didn’t remember seeing it. Either way, the menu looked good so that’s here we headed.
Tomato Bros. is on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Highland Road. You can’t miss it. There is a huge sign over the entrance of the building in addition to the typical roadside sign. One you turn in, you find a parking lot that is a little weird. Some of the spots are facing north and south while others are facing east and west. They really try to pack the cars in there. I parked my truck and J thought I was nuts. It looked like I made my own parking space, but I assure you, I didn’t.
We made our way inside. Once we got through the big, decorative, wood doors, I didn’t find what I was expecting to find. I figured Tomato Bros was going to be a sports bar, but it was really a nice, sit down restaurant with a bar. We were met by a hostess and asked us the dreaded “smoking or non-smoking” question. We chose non-smoking and were shown to a booth in the back of the restaurant near the kitchen. The space is rather large and there were quite a few groups of ladies dining. We assumed they were either going to or coming from the outlet mall.
Our waitress was boxing up the leftovers for the table next to us, but she did popover just for a second to tell us she’d be right with us. It gave us some time too look over the menu which consisted of salads, sandwiches, pasta, and pizzas. When the waitress was finished with the table next to us, she came over for drink orders. J got a Diet and I got a Pepsi. That gave us a few more minutes to decide. We talked about pizza, but decided we’d do pizza for dinner. I then thought about a burger, but noticed the pasta dishes were the same price and they came with soup or salad.
We both ended up going for pasta, but while we were waiting, we started with some of their “famous” bread sticks. I was expecting to get maybe a half dozen bread sticks, but when they came out, there was more than a half dozen. The breadsticks are hand made and it’s obvious. Everyone is a different size and different shape. These bread sticks were not pumped out of a machine somewhere. The waitress set down a baskets that was over flowing with bread. The basket of bread led to my demise. I just couldn’t stop eating. They were so good. They were lightly buttered and salted which gave them an incredible taste. The only thing that would have been better would have been if they served them with a side of marinara.
For the entrees, J ordered the ravioli. She was happy to see the only option was cheese in a meatless sauce, so she didn’t have to ask. She had a chill while we were sitting there, so she went with the minestrone soup. She ate about half of that, but was afraid she was going to fill up on soup and bread sticks. When the waitress came back, J told her she could take the soup. The waitress inquired if it was because she didn’t like it. J assured her that was not the case. She just wanted to save room for her ravioli. The waitress offered to box it up, but we weren’t sure how soup would travel.
The ravioli was served in a huge bowl. There were quite a few pieces of pasta and they were buried under a layer of marinara and cheese. By this time, she realized she was taking quite a bit of ravioli home and started dipping the bread sticks in the sauce which made them even better. She did eventually dig into the ravioli but only ate a couple. What she had she said was great. A perfectly filled piece of pasta that was drowned in cheese and sauce.
I also went with a pasta dish and got the home made lasagna. For my side, I got a Caesar salad. The waitress set down a huge bowl of salad in front of me. I got about half way through and realized I was filling up, but I knew I could always take the lasagna home. The salad was great. It was perfectly dressed and covered with shredded Parmesan cheese. It was topped with regular and dark croutons.
My lasagna came up served in a bowl which I thought was weird. The presentation looked nice, but it was hard to eat. It was a little tricky to get my fork into the bowl to cut off a piece of the pasta. Like J, I had filled up on bread sticks and salad and ate about half of my pasta. The lasagna was good, but the real star of the meal was the bread sticks. We couldn’t stop eating those.
After sitting there for a few minutes, the waitress came over to box up what was left of our meal. We took home half of each of our entrees and a good number of bread sticks. When the waitress came back, she had an extra order of bread sticks that she added to our to go order. She told J we looked like we could use some more for later. She was right. We barely got home before breaking into one of the bags.
Our bill was just over $25, but we got two full meals. We got tickets for tomorrow’s MSU basketball game verse Bradley (Bradley University is in Peoria where we lived for the last several years, so I have followed them for a while) and we’ll have a full meal before we head to the Breslin Center. Tomato Bros was great. The waitress was really good. The food was awesome and the atmosphere was very comfortable. I had driven by Tomato Bros a number of times without even noticing it. I feel kind of stupid now.