Danny Raskin shares how the former Maria’s has expanded to Nonna Maria’s in West Bloomfield, featuring Italian dishes like never before.

By Danny Raskin

Photos courtesy Nonna Maria’s

The saying, “What goes around comes around,” is almost apropos in this case … Although it does have much to do with the re-opening of a closed West Bloomfield restaurant that at one time was considered among the better small Italian eating spots in this region … And it seems to have regained the lofty Italian dining note it once enjoyed.

After four attempts by others, a family member of a former owner, the late Al Valente, has re-opened the once very popular Maria’s Restaurant on Walnut Lake Road, just west of Inkster, West Bloomfield … When he opened Haggerty and Maple roads, Al never forgot those wonderful days at the original Maria’s … He was so successful that it might have become much too small for him.

It is now called Nonna Maria’s, named after its new owner John McDonald’s grandmother Grace Maria … John is a nephew of Al Valente and noted by many people as the one-time co-owner of Little Italy in Northville with Al’s son Jeffrey Valente.

John McDonald and Dan Mahan

Many will remember Dan Mahan, too, general manager at Nonna Maria’s … His 20 years as executive manager at Roma Café were memorable ones.

Among the many fine dishes on the menu, also available as specials, are some of those wonderful dishes Maria’s was always so noted for … like the all-time favorite Spiedini alla Romana (always available,) veal Di Mare, stuffed eggplant, linguini with clam sauce, etc. … plus a very fine listing of Italian favorites for which Maria’s has been noted … Like Veal and Lobster Piccata, Eggplant Parmesan, Penne From Heaven and Linguini Pescatore on the dinner menu.

Best sellers also include the sea bass, white fish and many veal and chicken dishes.

A special menu for dining-in only is also available for its Social Hours on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4-6 p.m.

Seating is for 55 plus five stools at the petite bar … Hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4-10, Fridays and Saturdays, 4-11, Sundays, 4-9 … Closed Mondays.

Nonna Maria’s, small and cozy, has made many new dining friends among the old … all of whom have coveted the excellent Italian and American dishes within its charming, quaint neighborly feel that has always attracted so many … Yes, the choice space and structure that once occupied one of the original schoolhouses of West Bloomfield, dating back to 1870 and moved from across the street in the 1930s, brings back choice dining memories for many.

As they also say, “Good things many times come in small packages” … This, Nonna Maria’s certainly does.


A NEW LOOK IS ahead for Pickles and Rye Deli’s interior on Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield … with hiring of Shari Stein from Design Team Plus in Birmingham … New tables, chairs, booths, carpet, wall laminates, art, light fixtures, new bathroom, new side stands, etc.

Also, the appointment of waitress Courtney Hill as its dining room manager … She will not be waiting on customers unless needed … Courtney was formerly manager of the one-time Deli Unique when at the Kingsley Inn.

REARVIEW MIRROR … When on another of my holiday visits with the Jewish prisoners at the one-time Jackson State Prison … with former Raleigh House general manager/owner Sammy Lieberman and Bill Kaufman of Kaufman Restaurant Supply, two of the Raleigh House’s 10 owners … Passover dinner had Purple Gang head Harry Fleisher still in the kitchen preparing chicken for the Jewish inmates, but now being called “Mr. Fisher” … As usual, guards and Jewish prisoners exchanging time as servers at their respective holiday dinners … Then seeing paroled Candy Davidson on the outside, happy that we made sure his wish was carried out … of giving his chicken to inmate Solly Abrahams.

A COUPLE OF years ago, Steve Goldberg was asked why he didn’t have onion bagels at his Stage Deli, West Bloomfield, and began serving them … Today they are his second-best sellers, just behind plain bagels.

OLDIE BUT GOODIE … A man called his mother in Florida., “Mom, how are you?” he asked.

“Not too good,” says the mother. “I’ve been very weak.”

The son asks, “Why are you so weak?”

She answers, “I haven’t eaten in 38 days because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”
CONGRATS … To Allan Minhoff on his birthday … To Sidelle Meyerman on her birthday.

Danny’s email address is dannyraskin2132@gmail.com.