Layered with Flavor: Hot & Hearty Lasagna Dishes in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | September 26, 2014
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I’m not much of a cat person, but that Garfield is one smart feline. Why? Because he enjoys inhaling pans of lasagna. Everyone has his or her favorite pasta dish, and lasagna is up there on my personal list of “best pasta items ever.”

You can spend hours perusing Pinterest looking for the perfect lasagna recipe (may I recommend these Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls?) to make this weekend, or you could give yourself a much deserved break from meal prep and head out to one of these restaurants in southeast Michigan for a lasagna that will change your life (or at least fill you up).

Giovanni’s Ristorante, 330 Oakwood Blvd., Detroit, is high on the list of most recommended Italian restaurants in Metro Detroit. Here, you’ll experience authentic flavors from the San Marino area of Italy through recipes perfected years ago that are now prepared by chef Randy. The restaurant’s Lasagne al Forno consists of paper thin sheets of pasta layered with meat, cheese and béchamel sauce. It’s then baked to cheesy perfection.

It would be a shame to leave without ordering the seasonal autumn Pumpkin Cheesecake, so, yes you do want dessert.

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Compari’s, 350 S. Main St., Plymouth, is a great Italian restaurant that I’ve never seen at less than full capacity. Here’s a trade secret I learned courtesy of the Food Network: if an item is boxed on a restaurant menu, it’s because they’re secretly Jedi mind tricking you into ordering that dish. Well, no tricks are needed here, because I will voluntarily order the Homemade Lasagna at Compari’s (that is indeed boxed in on the menu).

The pasta is layered with meat and cheese, then topped with homemade sauce and even more cheese, and baked until it’s golden brown. Pasta entrees like lasagna are served with a family style salad, but don’t fill yourself up with greens on this particular occasion. You can have a salad at your desk come Monday.

Rose’s Restaurant, 201 N. Canton Center Rd., Canton, is known for its made-from-scratch recipes, including the restaurant’s lasagna. Mama Rose’s Homemade Lasagna is layered with handmade noodles and sauce and served with homemade bread and soup or salad.

While a good wine is a traditional accompaniment to pasta dishes, no one will fault you for ordering Rose’s Cosmopolitan, a concoction made with Absolut vodka, DeKuyper Triple Sec and Chambord.

Roma Café, 3401 Riopelle St., Detroit, is Detroit’s oldest Italian restaurant (it’s been around since 1890), and one of the most beloved. If you enjoy both wining and dining (on lasagna in particular), this is the place for you. Roma Café has a wine menu with over 80 different selections on it!

The Baked Lasagna is made with layers of noodles, meat sauce and ricotta cheese, which is baked until bubbly. Roma Café prides itself on using fresh, hand chosen ingredients from Eastern Market. That’s something you can feel good about as you dine, right?

Argiero’s Italian Restaurant, 300 Detroit St., Ann Arbor, has been serving up Italian classics for nearly 40 years. The family owned and operated eatery has a patio (great for soaking up this last bit of nice weather before it disappears!), as well as delivery between 4 p.m and 9 p.m. Prime dinner time hours!

There are two lasagna choices here, including Meat Lasagna and Spinach Lasagna. The former is made with traditional noodles, layered with meat, cheese, tomato sauce and spices. The latter is incredibly unique—homemade spinach lasagna noodles layered with cheese, spinach, tomato sauce and spices. Both are served with crusty Italian bread and your choice of soup or salad.

La Dolce Vita, 17546 Woodward Ave., Detroit, is known as “Detroit’s best kept secret,” and the restaurant has been praised for its gorgeous patio, romantic feel and excellent cuisine. The Lasagna Béchamel promises to be the best you’ve ever had. (Note: for those of you who aren’t so culinary savvy, béchamel sauce is a white sauce typically made from a roux of butter, flour and milk).

The lasagna only makes an appearance on La Dolce Vita’s dinner menu, so don’t go there expecting it for lunch!

Nico & Vali, 744 Wing St., Plymouth, is operated by the DePalma family, and the restaurant’s recipes are nothing but traditional Italian fare. Whether you’re there for lunch or dinner, Nico & Vali offers both a meat and vegetable option for lasagna lovers.

The Meat Lasagne consists of pasta sheets layered with meat sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmigianino cheese and hardboiled egg. The Vegetable Lasagne is a vegetarian friendly option of pasta sheets layered with roasted veggies, Alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese and Parmigianino cheese. Both are served with your choice of soup, house salad or Caesar salad.

DeLuca’s Restaurant, 27424 Warren Rd., Westland, is an Italian-American restaurant that has been perfecting its dishes for almost 60 years. At DeLuca’s, you have several choices when it comes to lasagna. Veggie lovers will enjoy Homemade Lasagna with Eggplant, while meat eaters will go for the Homemade Lasagna with meat sauce.

However, if you’re feeling really carnivorous, you’ll appreciate the combination specials of Lasagna and Ribs, Lasagna and Chicken, or Lasagna and Shrimp. Each plate is served with your choice of salad or coleslaw, soft breadsticks and your choice among spaghetti, potato or vegetable.

Lasagna is a great comfort food dish, one that is oftentimes best prepared at home, but also greatly enjoyed at restaurants that prepare it with fresh, authentic ingredients. So, the next time you’re craving layers of noodles, sauce and cheese, please step away from the frozen entrée box, don’t go near a chain restaurant that rhymes with Shmolive Shmarden and head to one of the aforementioned classy Italian joints in the D!