Come an' listen to my story 'bout a man named Jim.
DeMarinis, that is.
At some point after the Earth cooled, Vince "Jim" DeMarinis married Lucy Vitrano, who happened to be the the sister of Vince Vitrano (my uncle, not this guy) who married Eleanor James, who happens to be the sister of (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official Father, who married my Official Mother, and, well....
Then a lot of stuff happened.
Eventually, Jim and Lucy opened DeMarinis Restaurant on the corner Wentworth and Potter in Bay View. (Side note; for a number of my formative years, we lived about two blocks from DeMarinis. The heavenly aroma wafting through the neighborhood on a weekend evening...)
Then a lot more stuff happened, Jim and Lucy both passed on, and the resturant closed in June 2012.
Although Jim and Lucy's sons Dominic and Phil opened a competing restaurant about a block away (I told you a lot more stuff happened) its a little too restauranty. They have much more than pizza, including full Italian entrees. I've been there numerous times, and it was very good. It's gotten good reviews. But its not the same.
Not content to let "Mama's" recipes die, Jim and Lucy's granddaughter, Veronica Cieslak, decided to open a restaurant with her husband, Joey, named Little DeMarinis Pizza. The business is in a former American Legion post on the corner of Kinnickinnic and Fulton in Bay View (less than a mile from "Mama's" place).
Because of my "Nothing but the best" credo when it comes to My-Sugar-Na, we decided to give Little DeMarinis a try for a Valentine's Day dinner.
We arrived around 8:00 PM to find the place standing room only, and were informed of a wait "up to an hour". My wife gave me the "Let's get out of here" look, but I was on a mission. We made our way into the restaurant and bellied up to the bar.
A very nice touch was that the lettering from the side of "Mama's" building has a prominent place at the bar. We barely had sat down before our drink order was taken, and within 15 minutes we were shown to our seat (take that, My-Sugar-Na!)
From our seat, we could get an impression of how small this restaurant is. I counted 15 tables and about 20 seats at the bar. With the way the tables are placed within the open space, it reminds me of some pizza places I've been to in Chicago and New York.
(Disclaimer #1 - The day we visited them, they had been open for four whole days. Glitches are expected.)
(Disclaimer #2 - Even though I am the nephew [once removed, I think] of Veronica's Grandmother's brother, I did not ask for - nor was I offered - anything at no charge. I paid full price for our meal.)
Once we sat down, service bogged down a bit. We gave our order (cheese garlic bread and a large cheese / sausage / onion pizza) and waited as My-Sugar-Na's soda glass was empty. We did mention it to our server, who said that she had placed the order at the bar (don't ask me... we didn't ask her). The cheese bread came out in about 10 minutes, and was very good. Texas toast, buttery, garlicky, cheesy... everything one would expect.
Still waiting for our pizza, we were licking the garlic crumbs when server took the bread basket. It took about 40 minutes after we ordered our pizza before it arrived.
A DeMarinis pizza in all its glory.
So much of it was just as I had remembered it. The pizza dough, sauce and Italian sausage are all homemade, and although my particular pizza had a little too much sauce on it (which made the crust a bit soggy on the bottom) the taste was a winner.
I did speak with Veronica after dinner, and she did mention that they are still getting routines down, and they were still learning the ins and outs of the new brick pizza oven. But she was confident that in very short order, all the kinks would be worked out.
The cost for one soda (with refills), one bottle of Blue Moon, the cheesy bread, pizza, tax and tip was about $30.00. Not a bad price to pay for a taste of my childhood.