Mario's Restaurant
Mario's Restaurant (Facebook/Mario's).

Mario’s was not just a typically good Detroit restaurant, it was one of the best and deserved listing among the city’s top 10.

They were once dubbed the Massage Brothers by localite “Turk” Prujansky (Herman Prujan to his Hollywood friends) long before there were the Blues Brothers … But two other brothers gave up their lunch business and one of them, Mario Lelli, other than breaking your back with his slapping ways, continued and settled things with some of the best steaks and Italian food in town.

It was not just a typically good Detroit restaurant … It was one of the best and deserved listing among the city’s top 10.

But working 18 hours a day was too much, so Mario and brother Nello gave up the lunch business … Although even more success came almost immediately.

The accent at Mario’s was Italian, but a very sophisticated and worldly Italian … His customers were getting away from ordinary Italian dishes as their palates became more sophisticated …

More and more called for Latin delights … Mario came out with a brochure telling his customers what they were getting.

He was no slouch as a cook and frequently took over the preparations of some of Mario’s very special dishes … He once told me that all the recipes were his own originals … that he stole them from somebody else and then added his own improvements and refinements.

Mario'sFacebook/Mario’sMario’s fine Italian hand was distinguished in the great minestrone soup, a meal in itself, the special antipasto, another meal in itself, the superb manicotti, etc.

Mario wasn’t kidding when he said that all his beef was prime … his steaks were great … but his Italian food was even better!

That was back in the ’50s and Mario’s, now owned by Vince Passalacqua, is still doing terrific business as Mario’s at the same Second Boulevard, Detroit spot. 

MAIL DEPT. … “I’m a lawyer and retired Wayne County Circuit judge. I especially love your column. I never made it to Echner’s, but was very fond of the London Chop House, Caucus Club, Pinkey’s, Little Harry’s, the Old Club, Carl’s, Mario’s, Larco’s, Lelli’s, Villa Venice, Joe Muer’s, the Gaslight, Victor Lim’s, Trader Vic’s, Brass Rail, Roma, Russell’s, Topinka’s and Cardinal’s for the best fettucine ever.” … Sharon Tevis Finch.

DON’T LOOK FOR the present avalanche of food-to-home delivery companies and offshoots of biggies like Kroger, Walmart, Whole Foods, etc., to give up the golden goose it has found … Many are making big money with it … But things may change when restaurant dining opens up again full force … Numerous men and women will happily go back to their former jobs at eateries … Most restaurants can’t do without them … And in untold cases, people will be glad to do their own shopping everywhere themselves again … even to going distances without the present problems like groceries being left on porches, doorsteps, etc. … and, in some instances, even fences and garage lids … plus being stolen.

OLDIE BUT GOODIE QUICKIE …Two roaches were gorging themselves at a restaurant dumpster … One left to examine the dumpster of a new restaurant and returned extolling virtues about how clean it was … “Please,” said his buddy, “not while I’m eating!”

CONGRATS … To Lillian Halperman on her birthday. 

Danny’s email address is

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