Martini’s has been a Kalamazoo favorite of mine for many years. For a few years it was part of my birthday tradition. Sometimes it would be a large group of friends and sometimes it would be just my Mom and I, but I always made sure I got there for my special day. For whatever reason (I’m guessing I just forgot….getting old is hard!), I stopped doing my birthday dinners there. It has been a few years, so I decided that Brandon and I should stop through to make sure it was still as delicious as I remembered.
Brandon and I walked into Martini’s just before 5:00 pm on a chilly Saturday and were shocked to find a full restaurant. We didn’t make a reservation and ended up being very lucky and were walked right back through the eclectic and buzzing restaurant to one of the last small tables in the bar area. We don’t usually love tall bar tables, but we realized quickly we couldn’t be picky because of how busy they were. The table was fine. My only complaint was that the bar area was more dimly lit than the main dining area. Normally, this would be no big deal, but because I like to take pictures of my food for you, it was not ideal. Typically, I ask to be seated next to a window for the best lighting.
After being seated, we wanted to take a little extra time to go over the large menu full of pizza, pastas, and other Italian fare, so we ordered a half order of garlic bread as we studied the menu and made some decisions.
Our lovely server brought over a large basket (which we both said, “this is half?!”) of yummy looking garlic bread that was cut up into small pieces, and we placed our orders. It also came with a red sauce for dipping. We LOVED the red sauce. Typically red sauce is too sweet for me. This was not. It wasn’t super salty either, just more neutral with great flavor. The garlic bread being cut in more bite sized pieces made it perfect for dipping!
When it came time order I went with a pasta, the Three Cheese Cavatappi with Brussel Sprouts and Sage. When given a choice of minestrone soup or salad, I went with the minestrone.
Brandon went with a pizza. The table next to us had one that looked delicious, and I assured him that I had loved their pizza on previous visits. He ordered his with sausage and pepperoni.
My minestrone came out shortly after and it was awesome! Again, for a pre-meal soup it was a pretty large portion. I can’t say enough about the soup. It was hearty with vegetables and scarce on the pasta, just how I like it. A lot of times in soups, I find vegetables to be mushy and overcooked, but Martini’s got it right here. The veggies were just tender enough. They also put a hefty amount of parmesan cheese on top. It was the perfect way to warm me up!
Next out came our entrees.
My cavatappi dish looked huge and delicious. It was served in a large bowl with a great sage cream, mascarpone, fontana and topped with beautiful Brussel sprouts. Pasta, cheese and Brussel sprouts? How can this go wrong?!
It was rich and yummy, but honestly, was way too much food. I barely made a dent in my meal before pulling out the white flag and asking for a box. I will say though, I had munched on garlic bread and had about half of my large bowl of soup before starting on my entree, so it makes sense that I was full. Also, is too much food really a problem?
Brandon absolutely loved his pizza. He declared it to be in his top three pizzas in the Kalamazoo area. I did try a bite and it was so good. The sauce was perfect. Just like the dipping sauce, not too salty, not too sweet. The cheese was drool worthy. It was hot and melty. The crust was the real star. It was a perfect combination of fluffy and crisp. We both agreed that it would be worth the drive to pick up a pizza at Martini’s the next time we have a pizza night at home. So good.
For review purposes only, we decided we should probably order a dessert. You know…. just for content. Our nice server impressively went through all their desserts without looking at any menu and she mentioned a cheesecake in the roster. We have a real cheesecake problem, so of course went with that. We had it topped with chocolate and raspberry syrup and wow.
It was amazing. It was a large serving, and even though we shared a piece, it was more than enough for the two of us. Sweet, fluffy, with almost a cookie-like crust.
Martini’s was great. It was incredibly busy, so I will say it wasn’t super quiet, but it also wasn’t so loud that we had to strain to hear each other or talk more loudly than usual. There was a fun “buzz” to the evening. We watched many people walk in and try to squeeze in at the bar until their tables were ready. At one point there was a couple standing right next to our table while we ate, waiting for someone to leave the bar. They realized after a few minutes that it was an awkward place to stand, and apologized. I didn’t mind though. I offered them some garlic bread and they laughed and moved along.
The service was great and the food was delicious. It’s a good atmosphere that’s not too stuffy and a step above a bar. It’s comfortable and cute. The decor is super eclectic. There are a lot of different colors going between the stained glass on the windows and the vibrant colors on the wall, but it all works. It all goes together well and helps contribute to a fun atmosphere.
Martini’s has been in downtown Kalamazoo since 1988, and I’m sure they have changed things, but there is an old school charm to it that doesn’t look dated. I can totally see why they continue to be successful!
We, for sure, will be back. Even if it’s just to grab a pizza to go. They also have a patio in the warmer seasons, which would be nice to enjoy a cocktail on a warm summer day.
A few things to note… First, parking isn’t great. They seemed to have expanded their parking lot since I last visited, but it’s still not large. There is definitely room on the street next to Martini’s for spillover parking. Second, the portion sizes are huge. My pasta had probably three servings in it. I had some of my leftovers the next day and ended up throwing out the rest since I wouldn’t get to it before it went bad. Again, too much food is really not a bad thing, just worth noting!
Lastly, their price point is excellent! We had the garlic bread, soup, two entrees, a dessert and two glasses of wine and our bill was under $70. When I’m going out to eat and I know I’m going to review the place for you guys, I like to order three courses if possible so I can give an accurate review (you’re welcome!), and for two of us it typically falls in the $100 range. We were shocked and thrilled that our dinner was under that. I even made sure to go through the receipt to make sure we were charged for everything (we were).
Like I said before, Martini’s has always been a special place for me. I was excited that they haven’t changed one bit!
Martini’s is a great place for a family meal, a casual business dinner or a fun date night!
They are open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 4-11 pm and Sundays from 2-9 pm. They recently have decided to not open for lunch, which I have heard is disappointing to a lot of people that work in the area, but maybe it’s a really smart business move to make sure the restaurant stays put!
Have you been to Martini’s yet? What do you order there?