Food fight

Nick and Nino’s
391 N. Telegraph Rd.  Monroe, MI
Mon-Wed: 11:30am-kitchen closes 10pm
Thur-Sat:   11:30am-kitchen closes 11:30pm
Sun:  Noon-10pm

My children think pizza is “the other food group.”  Over the years, we’ve gone out of our way to try a wide variety from the thin crust to the deep dish pizza pies and everything in between. Coal fired pizzas, however, were new to my children.
This time, we tried out Nick and Nino’s Coal Fired Pizza on Telegraph Road in Monroe, Michigan. For 10 years, Nino Perna has owned and operated the adjacent Italian restaurant, Dolce Vita. A couple years back he renovated the space next door and opened Nick and Nino’s.
The sign says Coal Fired Pizza and Sports Bar, but Perna will tell you, “We would much rather be a restaurant than a bar.” The covered outside patio has been enclosed for the winter, and there is a dining area in the back where you can watch everything which happens in their open kitchen, with the coal fired oven front and center.
The difference
is in the oven
What makes a coal fired pizza so special? Well, the oven temperature is about 1,000 degrees, and your pizza takes a mere three minutes to bake. They shred their own cheese, caramelize their own vegetables, cut and cook their own meats, and even crush the Italian plum tomatoes by hand daily for their sauce. It might sound a bit labor-intensive, but the results are well
worth it.
An abundance of choices
We were on a mission for pizza, but it was intriguing to see the menu with tempting sandwiches, subs, wraps, ribs, burgers, Stromboli, lasagna — the list goes on.  “Our ribs are very popular.  Because of the temperature of the oven, the BBQ sauce actually caramelizes on the ribs,” said Perna.    
Prepare to ponder at least 16 specialty pizzas. We ordered a basic pepperoni and sausage for our less adventurous kids, and ordered two small specialty pies for us. Have you ever had a pizza with feta, pine nuts, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella? Or maybe mozzarella, Romano, Italian sausage, spinach and artichoke hearts? No? You really should. Wow.
Saturday morning fun
Make your kids’ trip to Nick and Nino’s even more fun by letting them make their very own pizza! On Saturday mornings between 10:30am and 1pm kids can step into the kitchen and put their Italian pizza making skills to the test. With assistance they can even turn their pizza in the coal fired oven. “It’s kind of a nice touch for the kids,” said Nino. The only cost is for the pizza, but call ahead so they will be expecting you.
Bottom Line: Leave the greasy fast food behind and venture out with the family to try something new. The coal fired pizzas, as well as the rest of the mouthwatering menu, will keep everyone happy. The kids might even enjoy a special drink from the slushy machine, too!