Pizza Al Forno

11 05 2008
  • 1943 Cedar St.Pizza Al Forno
  • Holt, MI 48842
  • (517) 694-4175
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

No matter where you live in the country, there’s one place that the locals go for pizza.  There’s one place somewhere that is just a little, locally owned, shop that serves up the most delicious pizza you swear you’ll ever eat.  I haven’t had much of a chance yet to find that place and no one has really been able to offer that information up here in Lansing.  I’ve been getting coupons in the mail for some local places, so I figure it’s finally time to start looking.

The first place I tried was Cottage Inn (review here).  That’s kind of a chain, so not really what I’m looking for.  The next place we tried was a little place called Pizza Al Forno in Holt.  I called the order in at about 6:30 on a Sunday night.  They offered delivery, but I really needed to get out of the house, so I got it for pick up.  We headed down Cedar St through Holt to find a pretty non-descript shop in a non-descript strip mall next to the Edru Skae-A-Rama.  It’s strictly a carry-out place….only a counter and the kitchen inside.  My pie was really reasonably priced.  I got a 16″ pepperoni pizza for just under $11.

Once we got it back home, we didn’t waste anytime digging in.  The menu brags that they use all locally grown ingredients and make their sauce from scratch.  That’s what it looked like to me.  The sauce is put on pretty thick and you can taste the fresh tomatos. There was a kind of a sweetness to it instead of a spicyness that most places shoot for.   It’s not a smooth, blended sauce.  There are chunks of tomatos and you get that in every bite.  The cheese was a nice golden brown and held up on each bite.  My girlfriend called the pepperoni’s “cute.”  Instead of a handful of huge pepperoni’s, there were a lot of little pepperoni’s.  The crust is a thin New York-style crust and sort of chewey.

She wasn’t very hungry and only had two pieces and I didn’t finish the rest of it by a long shot.  Even if she had been hungry, the 16″ would have been enough and there probably would have been a little left.  Pizza Al Forno was good.  It wasn’t the knock your socks off I’m looking for, but it is good enough to put the phone number away for another day. 


Clara’s Lansing Station – Brunch

11 05 2008
  • 637 E. Michigan AveClara's
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • (517) 372-7120
  • Website
  • Menu

I originally reviewed Clara’s Lansing Station on April 14 (review HERE) after my girlfriend I and stopped in for dinner on a Sunday night.  We liked the place so much, we decided to get Mother’s Day Brunch reservations since her parents were going to be in town.  The atmosphere is what sold us on the return the visit.  The old train station is just beautifully restored that she wanted to show her parents.

Reservations were a good thing.  The place was packed and there were people waiting. We got there about 10 minutes before our reservation, but were shown to a table right away.  This time, we were up in the balcony.  The buffet is on the main floor and takes up space where there are tables the rest of the time.  The trip up the stairs was probably good for us to burn a few calories before hitting the line. 

Right by the door, the buffet started with an omelet station and a carving station.  I passed on both, but my girlfriends mom stopped and got an omelet that was loaded with two kinds of cheese.  Next came the buffet line.  It started with breakfast favorites like biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage then transitioned into lunch food like cheesy potatos (which my girlfriend LOVED), ham steaks, and chicken wings.   I, of course, loaded my plate with meats.  The bacon was crispy, but pretty generic.  The ham was good and the chicken wings were hot.  Nothing would have been fabulous had I ordered it off a menu, but for a brunch buffet, this stuff was good.

There was also a salad bar to the back and a huge spread of desserts.  I just grabbed a piece of chocolate chip cheesecake with an oreo crust.  My girlfriend got a huge sampler platter to share with her mom and her stepdad came back with his own assortment of goodies.  The desserts were all top notch.

The brunch price was around $17 per person, so it did end up being pretty expensive, but it’s one of the better brunches.  I’ve definately paid more and gotten less.  Clara’s was really packed which is always a good sign when it comes brunch.  I’ve heard it was the best in town and I have no reason to doubt that.  Clara’s was the first repeat visit for us since moving to Lansing and we’ve been really happy with both meals.

Dusty’s Tap Room

11 05 2008
  • 1839 W. Grand River Ave.Dusty's Tap Room
  • Okemos, MI 48864
  • (517) 349-5150
  • Website
  • Menu

Dusty’s Tap Room is part of a larger Dusty’s Cellar complex.  My girlfriend’s parents were in town one weekend and we wanted to go to Meridian Mall to go to Caruso’s (reviews HERE).  After a 3 1/2 hour drive, they were hungry, so we needed a place for lunch first.  I did a search for restaurants in Okemos and Dusty’s came up.  Just another reason why restaurantuers need to have a website.

The Tap Room is located in a strip mall just down from Dusty’s Cellar.  The Tap Room is a really comfortable bar with high pub tables, low lighting, dark wood and of course TV’s in front of the bar.  There was one other guy in there with his two daughters when we stopped in.  We took a table near the back of the bar.  The waiter came over with menu and to get drinks.  The menu was a lot of sandwiches, wraps, salads, and hot dogs.  Our waiter, Joel, came back with drinks, but didn’t ask if we were ready to order.  He just dropped them of and left.

So, five mintues later, Joel comes back and we order.  My girlfriend ordered the smoked turkey pretzel sandwich and her mom got the Dusty’s chicken sandwich.  They cut each sandwich in half and gave it to the other.  The smoked turkety pretzel sandwich is turkey, bacon, and provolone on a pretzel roll.  It came with a side of honey mustard and your choice of fries.  All four of us ordered the beer battered fries which good and salty.  You could really taste the sea salt…that’s not a bad’s not like iodized salt which is overpowering when you get too much of it.  Back to the sandwich, the pretzel roll is the reason she ordered the sandwich and it didn’t disappoint.  The grilled chicken sandwich came with a mixture of spinach, sun-dried tomatos, and a garlich-herb cheese spread on top of a pretty good size chicken breast. Both ladies liked both sandwiches, but I think the pretzel roll won.

Myself and my girlfriends step dad went pretty boring and got the Classic Burger.  I really wanted a Black and Bleu burger, but they mix the bleu cheese with a black olive mayo and that didn’t really sound appetizing, so I backed off.  The burger is a 1/2 angus burger.  I got mine with cheddar…her stepdad got it without cheese.  The burger comes on a square seasme seed bun.  I had mine cooked medium  which left it juicy and just a little pink in the middle.  It was good, but it was just a burger.

It took Joel a long time again to come back to refill drinks and quite a while to come back with the check.  We sat there for a while with empty plates waiting for the bill. Once it finally did come, the total for four people was about $45. 

After we ate lunch, we decided to walk down to Dusty’s Cellar.  There’s another restaurant there…a little more fancier and an upscale grocery store with wine, a deli, baked goods, and some gourmet items.  They even had my girlfriends favorite salsa which we can’t find anywhere (Sable and Rosenfeld’s).  The Tap Room has a great ambience and pretty good food.  The whole complex is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon.  There’s private dining on top of the two dining rooms and at the Wine Cellar, there’s an outdoor patio.  I don’t know if we would try the Tap Room again as it doesn’t really stand out, but I am looking forward to trying lunch at the Cellar.  It was good and the experience is good. I would recommend it to someone looking for a place in Okemos…just not sure if I’d go back.