Once again, my Downtown Detroit Loft hosted a resident event where I was able to get together with old friends, meet new neighbors, and catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Which made the venue, La Lanterna Pizzeria & Bar, the perfect setting for a great get-together.
Originally established in 1956, La Lanterna is technically a longtime resident of the city, like the old friends I met up with. However, since they opened this new incarnation of the restaurant across the street from the original just this month, it’s also like having a new neighbor or catching up with someone I hadn’t seen for a while.
Okay. Let’s just be clear. I wasn’t around to see the original in 1956. But I have family and friends who are from Detroit and who did know—and love—the original.
And that is a wonderful aspect of living in Downtown Detroit—even if you are new to the area, you are immediately connected to the past and surrounded by the long history of this city. My luxury loft is a great example of this mix.
My neighbors and I have the original high ceilings, huge windows, thick brick walls, and other architectural details from when our homes were the offices of the Frank & Seder Building (built in 1881), the Valpey Building (1886), the Heyns Bazaar (1919), and the F.W. Woolworth Company Building (1923).
We also have marble and tile walk-in showers and Jacuzzi bathtubs, in-unit high-efficiency washers and dryers, and granite countertops and contemporary state-of-the art appliances in our kitchens.
Not that these last will be much more than aesthetically appealing now that I have La Lanterna just around the corner from my Downtown Detroit Loft.
Alright. Maybe the granite countertops and kitchen island. Because La Lanterna offers carry-out. And delivery.
But you really need to go visit the restaurant, and I’ll be returning there often because that’s where the really important mix happens: the set-up of the space and the tasty combinations on the menu!
The bar claims to seat 12. I think we had at least thirty people there and, while we were all able to mingle and visit and share between the L-shaped bar and the high-tops adjacent to it, it felt comfortable and not crowded.
There are also four-tops and traditional tables between the bar and the open kitchen, with its centerpiece, a Marra Forni Neapolitan oven.
Fine, I have no idea what a Marra Forni Neapolitan oven (research informs me it is brick), but it kind of looks like a lantern. And all that matters is it makes incredible pizzas!
Since The Lofts of Merchants Row not only fêtes but feeds us, we had a selection of pizzas to choose from.
I chose them all.
Since it’s on the left side of the menu, we’ll with one of their Pizze Bianche. The Bianca, with Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and E.V.O.O. In its simplicity it was absolutely fabulous.
If you wanted to add a bit more flair (and anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant and service industry or an office space knows the pun I intend here), I would recommend the Rustica, with Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Red Bell Pepper, Blue Cheese, and E.V.O.O..
Quick disclaimer: since the owner came out of the kitchen in his chef coat and chatted and laughed with customers and staff alike, I am pretty sure he isn’t ‘that’ boss.
And, it’s exactly that attitude and atmosphere that would make this venue perfect for a large group like ours or a romantic date night.
And for me, the perfect romantic date is one where we both agree to eat garlic. I am the anti-vampire when it comes to garlic. And the next pizza I swiped right on was their Fiorentina, with Mozzarella, Garlic, Spinach, Parmigiano, and E.V.O.O.. Please note that Parmigiano is not just a fancy menu-spelling for Parmesan. This is not that stuff that comes in a green-and-white container. It’s an abbreviation of Parmigiano-Reggiano. And while ‘Reggiano’ just means cheese in Italian, it looks a lot like ‘regal,’ which is also be appropriate since Parmigiano-Reggiano—an incredibly tasty hard, dry cheese, aged at least two years—is aptly called the ‘King of Cheeses.’
Alright, enough cheesiness (well, at least of the romantic date night sort), because the next pizza that made my list was the Rocket, with Fresh Mozzarella, Fontina, Goat Cheese, Arugula, Lemon Zest, and Spicy E.V.O.O. Yep. That’s three kinds of cheese. But let’s be honest. They had me at Goat Cheese.
And they also had me with their Margherita, with Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil.
Fresh, huge, delicious pieces of basil. Did you know that Margherita translates to ‘daisy’ in Italian? And you will find a garden’s worth of fresh basil on your Margherita pizza at La Lanterna, though the name of this traditional and tasty pizza comes from its homage to the Italian tricolor and the name of the Queen that the 19th century pizza-maker created it for…. (You are welcome for the fun fact that will wow your date or friends almost as much as this pizza will.)
Okay, so I’m going to get a bit off track here with regard to the pizza, but stay on point with regard to the herbs. We also had the Rosemary Fries, with Sea Salt and Rosemary as Antipasti.
Yep. That happened. French Fries as a prelude to pizza.
Which may not be traditional, but is definitely delicious!
If you want to go traditional but still tasty, they’ve got your Americana, with Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Pepperoni, and Mushrooms.
But if you want to spice things up, you need to check out my favorite for the night: the La Lanterna, with Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Italian Sausage, Onion, and Spicy Peppers.
Note: I said ‘favorite for the night.’
Because, see, pizza is like that.
While all pizzas are essentially the same (crust and toppings), there are huge variations (round, square, thin, thick, red, white). But there are the incredible differences, additions, and preferences that make them individual.
And that’s a lot like living in Downtown Detroit. My neighbors are essentially all the same: good people. But I am constantly surrounded by amazing people who are different from me, who have additional skills and preferences. Which continuously influences and inspires me.
When you live in a Downtown Detroit Loft you become part of a family, just like La Lanterna is part of the same family as the upscale DaEduardo Foxtown Grille, just up the street from my luxury loft.
Which is why in a city known for its Coney Dogs, this Pizzeria and Bar will thrive.
In Detroit, there is room for everyone at the table.
So pull up a seat at La Lanterna and see what life in Downtown Detroit is like. We love new neighbors!