Restaurant Report: What's opening in Detroit in early 2019

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
Mootz Pizzeria is expected to open in downtown Detroit in January.

If you thought 2018 was a fast-paced year for Detroit's restaurant scene, buckle up. The next 12 months are sure to be just as fruitful. 

In pizza restaurants alone, we're looking forward to at least three big newcomers the first half of the year. Last month, longstanding Detroit-style pizza tavern Shield's announced they were teaming up with a franchisee to open a Shield's in Midtown

Located across Woodward from the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Shield's will be in the Maccabees Building and could open as soon as January. 

Also expected to open in January is New York-style pizza post Mootz Pizzeria at 1230 Library in downtown Detroit. This colorful Bedrock-leased spot is nearly 4,000 square feet and will serve a menu that's been overseen by New York-based "pizza expert" Bruno DiFabio. There will be about 100 seats and the restaurant will serve slices to-go for the late night crowd coming off the nearby Belt alleyway. 

And while not in Detroit proper, more pizza is expected this spring down Woodward in Ferndale when Como's reopens under the management of Peas & Carrot's Hospitality restaurant group, which is currently doing an entire gut job on the building. They'll serve chef Zack Sklar's elevated version of Detroit-style deep dish pizza at Nine Mile and Woodward. 

Detroit is going to see more African cuisine in the upcoming months, as well. Afro-Caribbean food truck YumVillage will transition into a brick-and-mortar restaurant in New Center at 6500 Woodward as soon as February. Chef Godwin Ihentuge says he'll also use that space as an incubator to help up-and-coming restaurateurs hone their craft. 

A plate from a recent YumVillage pop-up event with jerk chicken, rice, chick peas, plantains and a black bean fritter.

With the help of a Comerica Hatch Detroit grant, Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba will open Baobab Fare African restaurant and market, also in the New Center area. The two Burunudi immigrants, a married couple, want their business to fill a gap of African fare and culture in the area and also offer a safe space for other immigrants. 

A lot of the more high-end new bars and restaurants are opening inside downtown Detroit hotels, including Shinola Hotel and the Siren. 

In 2018 we saw the Candy Bar dazzle on the first floor of the Siren, along with chef Garret Lipar's eight-seat tasting counter Albena. Soon Sid's Gold Room karaoke bar and Karl's, a diner from Lady of the House chef Kate Williams will follow. 

At the Shinola Hotel, New York City's NoHo Hospitality Group made their Detroit debut last week with the opening of San Morello. Next they'll open Evening Bar inside the hotel, followed by — a few months later — The Brakeman, an American-style beer hall. 

On the more casual front, those who lunch downtown will be happy to hear the Green Room Salad Bar will resurface inside the Guardian Building in early 2019. The soup and salad carryout spot was ousted from its longtime home at 120 W. Congress this year. 

The future home of the restaurant Magnet, coming in 2019 from the team behind Corktown's Takoi.

In Detroit's neighborhoods, chef Brad Greenhill is readying to open Magnet at 4848 Grand River in the Core City development. There the Takoi chef and chef de cuisine Mike Conrad will focus on open flame cooking with a menu that won't be exactly meat-free, but will have a focus on vegetables. 

Another anticipated neighborhood opening is Gabriel Hall, a New Orleans restaurant set to open in West Village. 

Even more is on the way. With hotels, high rises and storefronts continuing to pop up in and around Detroit, we're sure to see even more places to nosh in 2019.

Twitter: @melodybaetens