Sunday, March 1, 2009


Even without an ultra paternalistic law forbidding smoking in private restaurants and bars, Amici's Pizza in Berkley embraced capitalism and adopted an all encompassing policy of non-smoking. Originally located in Royal Oak, Amici's Pizza has long established itself as a environmentally conscious, "green," Berkley mainstay, with its vast array of martinis, delicious gourmet pizza, outdoor summer patio, and, yep, no smoking policy.

Wheat crust as a healthy alternative is one of Amici's big selling points. Upon hearing this, I, as Lebron James would say, "preliminary," scoffed. When people want pizza, they have no intention on having a healthy meal. Even more, he or she has already mentally prepared him or herself to eat something unhealthy. It's a conscious decision that, for at least this one meal, the trade off between health and taste favors the latter. Fortunately, eating at Amici's turned my wheat crust distrust upside down because, well, it's good. Actually, I'd go as far as to say I wouldn't think twice about eating wheat crust pizza anymore as long as it tastes like Amici's does.

Even furthering Amici's reputation is that it's purportedly the first restaurant in southeast Michigan to be certified "green" by the national nonprofit Green Restaurant Association. It's unclear what makes it certified "green," considering the restaurant only uses disposable utensils, glasses, and plates (which I would assume creates much more garbage than using permanent kitchenware), but I'm generally not very hip to the rules associated with being "green." If anyone's interested in how Amici's became "green" your answer may be right here. Anyone...anyone...anyone...?

There are plenty of pizza options available at Amici's, and many of the combinations are as creative as they are enticing, including "pesto pizza", "blackened chicken pizza", and "caribbean spicy jerk chicken pizza." (They might have gone too far with "North Atlantic Salmon Pizza" though.) Traditional toppings are offered, but you can tell that the restaurant prides itself on its gourmet options. For cheese, upscale toppings include Fontina, Ricotta, Garganzola, Feta, and tofu vegan cheese, for vegetables, Portabella mushrooms, asparagus, grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes can be added, and for meat, blackened and jerk chicken, lox (sounds gross if you ask me), or Italian bacon are available.

Word to the wise though, make sure your waitress has a pen and paper. Otherwise, there's a distinct possibility that you'll be asked what the order was five times before you receive your food. Trust me, its annoying enough to just go ahead and make the awkward request that she write everything down. (I may have just had a bad experience with this.)

The pizza should be the main attraction, but the ability to get smashed on martinis while eating "health" pizza made with "green" precision doesn't hurt reviewers' positive sentiments. The list is extensive, including over 50 varieties, and with so many martinis to choose from, the place can get loud, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. The choices range from the traditional gin or vodka with vermouth, to "stoli-doli" (pinneapple soaked), and dessert martinis including "key lime pie," and "chocolate mint." Personally I'm not into the wacky martini options, so there are also about 45 other options of which the contents are unknown to me such as "bikini-tini," "journalist," "bee's knees," and "golden cadillac," just to name a few.

Some in our party loved the crazy martini concoction options, while some (me) thought of them as gimmicky. Either way, by the time everyone in your party has his or her third drink, they should all be well on their way to enjoying themselves, thereby rendering the unnecessarily over the top mixture options a non issue. (On a side note, I was told by a recent diner that their dessert martini was more focused on the dessert, instead of the alcohol.)

On one final food note, we got the Antipasto, as well as the fresh garden salad. The garden salad was inexplicably ordered as you could probably make it in your kitchen in about five and a half minutes, and the the Antipasto salad was decent at best. I wouldn't abandon eating at Buddy's just yet if you're in the mood for a salad with Italian meat.

In all, Amici's is a great spot for a casual dinner, drinks with friends, or for a nice but not too expensive date. The atmosphere is fun, the wheat pizza is delicious, and the martini menu is both extensive and eclectic. I should also again mention that Amici's is certified "green," which should make it acceptable in the hipster crowd, unless too many critics, myself included, have already pointed out the restaurant's "greenness," thereby creating the always intriguing predicament where the continual mention of an establishment's hipster quality leaves that very quality unequivocally unhip.

Anyway, its hipster status really shouldn't matter though because locals and those who have visited for years continue to come back, and new customers are introduced to the restaurant weekly. Between Amici's forward thinking attitude, delectable food, and expansive drink options, Amici's should be around for a long time.

See photographs taken at Amici's Pizza below. You can see the entire set of photographs from Amici's Pizza on flickr here.

3249 Twelve Mile Road
Berkley, MI 48072
Amici's Pizza

Detroit Army


Debbie said...

We were first time visitors at Amici's this past weekend. Looking forward to eating there again; especially in the summer when we can use the outdoor patio!

Unknown said...

mmm...salivating at your descriptiveness. will they get pissed when i order plain cheese?