How do you measure pizza pie perfection? Are you seduced by just the right shade of sauce? Are you seeking a bounty of toppings? Are you incorrigible in your quest for the ideal curl to your pepperoni? No matter your answer, chances are you judge your pizza pie from above, at face value.
Not Michael Weinstein. The founder and owner of Tomatoes Apizza, Weinstein cuts through the pie with seasoned dexterity. He lifts the piece up above eye level so he can see the bottom of the crust. With great pride, he points out the execution of a near-impossible feat. A balance of colors and textures. He is looking for a drama, a dance, a complexity that will deliver the Tomatoes Apizza difference directly to his customers’ mouths. Yes, the bottom of the pizza pie matters to Weinstein, but so does the side view. When is the last time you sliced a pizza pie and stared at the unique layers of the slice like a geologist examining ancient rock? Again, Weinstein’s eye is on the lookout for that drama, that dance, that complexity. He wants to see changes in colors, unexpected elevation and a certain motion that sparked his passion for pizza-making as a child.
Weinstein pursued his culinary career and pizza pie focus with laser determination. It is a career path he chose and continues to sculpt to a masterpiece. He attended culinary school and then studied the art of pizza in New Haven, Conn., under Lou Abate. To this day, Weinstein looks at Abate as a formative mentor. When Weinstein returned to Michigan, he learned the corporate side of culinary art by working for Little Caesars.
The first Tomatoes Apizza location was opened in 1999 at Halstead and Grand River. It was opened in the spot where four pizza business prior to it failed. What was different about Weinstein’s approach?
For one, Weinstein obsesses over every single ingredient he incorporates into his pizza pies and other dishes. He explains that any time he considers a change to any item, whether a tomato or a flour, he is meticulous about testing and tasting and thinking of whether the change will benefit his customers.
No story is complete about Tomatoes Apizza without mention of the famous lunch buffet ($9.99). In response to where the idea came from, Weinstein said business was slow during the middle of the day. So, as a solution to draw lunchtime customers, he set up a daily lunch buffet. Customers are welcome to dine on all-you-can eat fresh salad, gourmet pizza pies, chocolate piodina and fountain drinks. And if you like some anchovies for your salad or fresh-cut lemon wedges for your drink, just ask.
Now there are two locations of Tomatoes Apizza. Three and half years after opening Tomatoes Apizza’s anchor location, Weinstein opened its second space at 14 Mile and Middlebelt. Weinstein says he is far from satisfied. He looks to grow and keep improving Tomatoes Apizza.
He said he’s grateful for his staff, customers and family for sticking with him through the nearly two decades of pizza pies.
Genia Gazman Contributing Writer
29275 W. 14 Mile Road
24369 Halsted Road