For The Husband's 30th birthday dinner, we went to one of our favorite restaurants - Mario's in downtown Detroit. It's not too far from the Wayne State University campus (on 2nd Street) and is well worth the drive... in fact, we pass the Mario's in Troy on the way to get to the one in Detroit, it's just plain better.
Mario's is the classic fancy Italian restaurant with a 5 course meal as a norm, not including dessert! We're always too full for dessert so I cannot report on that. In fact, my report is limited to one thing....The Husband always gets the same thing and it's a dinner for two, so subsequently I get the same thing as well - the other half of his! The Chateaubriand is that good--- we don't anticipate trying anything else there, ever. Chateaubriand is basically a long filet mignon that is just enough to be cut into 6 thick slices, 3 for each person.
But, let's back up - there's a lot going on at Mario's before you even get to the entree. Visit their website for better pictures - it's a dark, old fashioned setting so my close-up no flash camera setting didn't have a lot of light. It's casual enough to wear jeans, but fancy enough to have live jazz music so I didn't want to "get caught" flashing a bunch of pictures of my food like a moron. Maybe they'd think I was from a newspaper... nah, probably just think I'm a weirdo.
Anyway, ... you're getting dark pictures. Just remember, photos are dark, but the food is perfect.
Reminiscent of a New York restaurant, signature photos hang to greet you when you walk in
The Husband and I opened up the menu just out of habit and put our order in right away. We also ordered some wine - House Cab at $9/glass (a little pricey,.. house prices weren't on the wine list and having known the price ahead of time, I would've just picked my own flavor...) which was a nice compliment.
Straight away, they bring out the bread and butter and relish trays. The relish trays have always included an assortment of Italian cuts of meat, antipasto-- olives, pickles, veggies, etc. This time around, we also had some shrimp and cocktail sauce. There were sprigs of green onions and celery but I didn't know what to do with them without any dip besides cocktail sauce... hm?
We tried not to eat too much bread.... that didn't work out, The Husband ate all the bread, but I made up for it on the salad, which he doesn't like. I think the salad is delicious - it has some kind of a creamy italian/caesar dressing (Mario's House Dressing), sliced hardboiled eggs, garbanzo beans, etc. Fresh grated parmesan cheese is available in a bowl on the table, which we added to all dishes minus the entree. Yum!
There is also a soup course, which I think was their Minestrone, and it was delicious (especially with parmesan.) I was able to control myself and also leave some of that. You really can't eat all they serve you or you won't even be able to get a mouthful of your entree in.
No entree yet - now it's the pasta course. We were served a ziti with meat sauce which was delicious. If you didn't take my advice, you'd be getting full here and becoming concerned. There is a leisurely amount of time between each course which makes the meal quite enjoyable and not as rushed as we all probably eat these days on a normal basis.
Finally, the entree is rushed out on a sizzling platter straight out of the broiler. The waitress slices the tenderloin tableside into 6 delicious and juicy slices, 3 for each plate. There is a sizzling pile of veggies - onions, carrots, etc, and a half of a delicious baked and sliced potato is portioned out onto each plate. Last but MOST IMPORTANTLY, Zip Sauce is spooned over each of the portions of steak. Zip Sauce is a magical blend of spices, au jus, and probably buttery goodness that seems to only be found in the Detroit area, at fine steak establishments (and Redcoat Tavern burgers).
As a side note, you can buy a Zip Sauce from many specialty shops around the Metro-Detroit area now, and make some (Add butter) at home for your steaks. The real thing from the restaurant is better, and we highly recommend ordering a side of it if you visit Mario's, Redcoat Tavern, or Lelli's.
A snapshot from an old Menu (I forget the year... but see for yourself)
Everything about the entree was amazing, from the delicious veggies to the succulent filet We ordered ours medium rare, as any good upstanding citizen would do when ordering a fine piece of beef, and it was cooked PERFECTLY. Everything was seasoned to perfection. This is a 5 star meal, and given the price tag of $65, we find it to be well worth it and a perfect night out for a special occasion. The Entertainment book has a coupon for Mario's for up to $17 off, too. We had steak leftover for a decadent "steak and eggs" the next morning... you will walk away satisfied and glad you stopped in. Go visit Mario's and show the historic establishment some support. It was not very crowded while we were there, and we'd hate to see it fade away.
Mario's of Detroit
4222 Second St (between Willis St and Canfield St, 4 blocks north of Mack/MLK Blvd)
Detroit, MI 48201
Plug it into Google, they have a neat "streetside" visual where you can view the facade of the restaurant.