Downriver is getting a major dose of culinary creativity with the opening of Major Tomato. The Allen Park pizzeria is all about fresh ingredients, fair wages and an inventive menu.
The pie menu is a list of unique, thin crust pizzas such as the Killer Tofu, topped with the obvious, plus jalapeno, roasted red peppers and Siracha hot sauce. The Meatsiah —dubbed "the holy grail of meat pizza" — has pepperoni, bacon, ham, sausage and ground bison. Find more meat on the I Love Pep Pep, which has three times the pepperoni.
The specialty pizzas were invented by the son of owner Paul Laginess, also named Paul, who has been making pizzas most of his adult life, his dad says. The elder Paul was a Ford employee for 20 years and a professional musician before he decided to open a pizzeria.
"Opening a restaurant may appear to be an out-of-left-field idea, especially at age 62, but it's something I've been thinking about for a long time."
"Since eating habits are changing these days, with more of a focus on natural and organic choices, it seemed like only a matter of time before something of this nature would open in the Downriver area."
Major Tomato also allows customers to dress up a burger or hot dog the way you would a pizza, with multiple toppings such as onions, mushrooms, jalapenos and pepperoni. Healthier options include veggie patties for the burgers, veggie dogs and for those with special diets, gluten-free pizza crusts and buns.
All the meats at Major Tomato come from grass-fed animals and the veggies are all cut fresh, not canned.
You can dine in at one of the few tables (the restaurant seats 35 comfortably), carry out, or, if you live close enough, opt for delivery. Laginess says he'd like to eventually add beer and wine. Another idea is to host live music a few nights a week and broadcasting the shows on the Web.
Find Major Tomato at 6547 Allen Road, Allen Park. Call (313) 254-9146. Note: The pizzeria is closed Mondays.
We usually don't single out individual menu items in this column, but we can't shut up about a recent diner discovery. Athens Souvlaki restaurants may have the best grilled, handmade pita bread on this planet. It's fluffy, yet crunchy, and has a touch of sweetness.
Pair it with a Greek salad, avgolemono (chicken lemon soup) or just order it as a side for $1.30. Athens Souvlaki has locations at 21738 W. 11 Mile in Southfield and 645 Griswold in the Penobscot Building in Detroit.
Food and beverage events
Belgian Beer Festival at Ashley's: Now in its fifth year, this 10-day promotion features more than 200 Belgian beers from more than 80 breweries, plus Belgian food and special events such as a sour beer happy hour, Valentine's Day Belgian dinner for two and a Belgian waffle brunch. Today-Mon. Prices vary. 7525 Wayne, Westland. (734) 525-1667.
Grand Opening of Brew Detroit: This week is the official debut of the 7,000 square foot tasting and tap room inside Brew Detroit, a collaborative brewing facility. Live music 6-9 p.m. each night, Thurs.-Sat. 1401 Abbott, Detroit. brewdetroit.com.
Valentines Dinner Fundraiser with Old World Olive Company at Salem High School: This four-course meal is a benefit for Plymouth-Canton Educational Park Culinary Program. Menu includes appetizers, brown butter artichoke with tomato leek ragout and sauteed shellfish, followed by chicken roulade and a chocolatey dessert. 4:30 and 7 p.m. Thurs. $35. 46181 Joy, Canton. (734) 667-2755 to reserve.
Phantom Masks and Opera at Gratzi: This three-course Italian dinner is paired with live theater performed by local artists. The production is "Phantom Masks and Opera" and the menu includes salad and tiramisu with a choice of entree like salmon, chicken marsala, goat cheese ravioli and filet mignon. 6 and 8 p.m. Thurs. $89.95. 326 S. Main, Ann Arbor. (888) 456-3463.
Sips and and Sounds at Southfield Pavilion: South American wine tasting with Latin jazz from John Douglas and Quiet Fire, plus light appetizers. 6-8:30 p.m. Fri. $25 in advance, $35 at the door. 26000 Evergreen, Southfield. (248) 796-4620.
Paczki Day Breakfast at Hamtramck Moose Lodge #1670: Fill up before a day of gallivanting around Hamtramck on Fat Tuesday. The Moose will offer egg souffle, kielbasa and paczki, plus a DJ and karaoke. 7 a.m. Tues. $5. 9421 Conant, Hamtramck. (313) 871-9115.
50 Tastes: A Night of Hidden Desires at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: Find your favorite new wine on one of five tables, each outfitted with samples of 10 wines, plus appetizers. Cocktail attire suggested. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20. $40. 323 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham. (248) 723-0134. 17400 Haggerty, Livonia. (734) 542-9463.
Whiskey Business at Royal Oak Farmers Market: Products from around the world, plus expert speakers like Kent Rabish of Grand Traverse Distillery, Master of Whisky Cheryl Alagna and Marianne Barnes of Brown-Forman Corp. (Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve). The event also has food, beer and entertainment. 7:30-11 p.m. Feb. 21, VIP entry starts at 6:30 p.m. $50, $70 VIP, $15 designated drivers. 316 E. 11 Mile, Royal Oak. whiskeybusinessmi.com.
Mac 'N' Brews and Comfort Food at Royal Oak Farmers Market: Enjoy gooey, savory macaroni and cheese from 20 area restaurants, plus desserts, craft beer and other beverages. Ticket includes food samples and 10 beer samples, VIP tickets get you 20 beer samples and early entry. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26. Early bird tickets are $35, $50 VIP. 316 E. 11 Mile, Royal Oak. macnbrews.com.
Michigan Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ball Park: One of the biggest beer events in the state, this 10th annual festival features 800 craft beers from 88 Michigan breweries. 3-7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 1-6 p.m. Feb. 28. $45 in advance. 4500 West River Drive Northeast, Grand Rapids. mibeer.com.