Peppina’s in Lincoln Park, Michigan

I guess that I am getting a little nostalgic and have been thinking of some of the old restaurants and watering holes from my youth, and the early days of discovering different wines back then.  One of the places that I remember was Peppina’s in Lincoln Park; they had a drive-in service on the side with carhops and a neighborhood Italian restaurant as well.



In those days I would go there with a large group of the guys from the old neighborhood and we would venture into the suburbs to eat and drink.  Some days we would end up with a table of twenty brash young guys all wanting to have a good time and Peppina’s would serve our insatiable appetites at the time.



They had a big room, and in the back there was a special room called the Amethyst Room.  As I recall the walls and displays were covered with large rough amethyst stones and geodes.  I also seem to recall that they had some amethyst jewelry that they sold near the cashier stand, probably made by a local artisan.



We would all go there for some of the best pizza, and they also had homemade pasta.  There would be little squabbles over what was better the spaghetti or the gnocchi, and the debate would never be decided.  It was the type of food that all of us would just chow down and eat with a fevered relish.

Lambrusco Fratelli


It was a time of beer and some wine.  We would just order bottles of wine to put on the table and drink at our leisure.  Of course the few of us, that did prefer the wine would get some remarks questioning our manhood, as beer was the preferred drink at the time.  What can I say, we were all young, rowdy and there for a good time.  We would get bottles of Lambrusco wine, which was very popular at the time.  This wine is from the Emilia-Romagna area near Bologna.  The wine is made from the Lambrusco varietal, which tends to have a “grapey” taste as opposed to the nuanced tastes that can be found in other varietal wines.  At that time in my life I was still discovering wines, so each wine was an adventure and a memory.

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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19 Responses to Peppina’s in Lincoln Park, Michigan

  1. Hi there! I was just waxing nostalgic today. Googled my cousins Peppina’s and Mary’s restaurant and there was your review! They gave me my first job bussing tables when I was 12. The amethyst stones and jewelry were provided by Mary Fontana’s (Peppina’s daughter) husband Paul. The restaurant had a ceiling collapse, and before it could be repaired a fire finished it off.

    Everybody remembers the pizza; I couldn’t get enough of the Twisties and Italian cream cake!


    Denise Angellotti

    PS, our family is from the Le Marche region of Italy; if you didn’t make your own (which we did) we drank jug burgundy. The homemade stuff was harsher!

    • Denise,

      Thank you for stopping by, and I hope my article brought a smile to you, as I also have fond memories of Peppina’s as I grew up in Southwest Detroit when we used to go there in my youth. You are right, to this day, everyone remembers the pizza, and of course the Amethyst Room.

      – John

      • Brandi Higdon says:

        I too had my first serving job there and Mary was such a great boss she even gave me paid maternity leave u now live in California and often wonder what became of the restaurant and the family GREAT MEMORY Brandi Higdon

      • Brandi, thank you for stopping by and I am glad that this article brought some good memories for you.

  2. Michelle Marr Ficyk says:

    My father was a Detroit police officer who came religiously to Peppina’s Ristorante from the earliest days and deeply respected Mary Deardorff and the way she ran her impeccable restaurant. When he retired, we moved almost two hours’ drive away, but our entire family would be SO EXCITED whenever we made the pilgrimage back to Peppina’s. I was lucky enough to live nearby as a young adult, shortly before the restaurant closed. Denise mentioned the Italian cream cake, and let me tell you… that is the most wished-for recipe amongst every single family member of mine, and every other family we knew who’d been lucky enough to enjoy it at the time. If anyone in the Deardorff family would ever share the recipe, I think my father would weep for joy to have it once more. Better still, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I would cherish a Peppina’s Ristorante cookbook! Thank you, John, for sharing your memories of Peppina’s – it brought many precious memories right back to me.

    • Michelle, I am glad that I could give you a smile with my memory of Peppina’s. Thank you for stopping by.
      – John

    • Mike Housepian says:

      I know this is over 2 years later but I couldn’t help but respond. My mother Lillian recently passed away at the age of 95 and I came across this when I googled “Peppinas”. You see she worked there for 48 years with the Deardorffs at Peppinas and actually made all the soups, pizza sauce, pasta sauce…and yes the pastries. Among those were the Italian Cake. She worked at the restaurant but baked from our house in Lincoln Park. She had an oven upstairs and a refrigerator upstairs. She also had a freezer downstairs as well as another oven. All in our tiny 2 bedroom house in Lincoln Park. My buddies used to come over just to get a whiff of my house inside and said it smelled like “confectioners sugar”.
      She was the matriarch of our family and it’s nice to hear that her baking was appreciated and touched many. You could certainly taste the love in all her dishes. Just thought I would share.

  3. Gary hawthorne says:

    I lived behind the restaurant and worked their at 15. Best pizza ever I remember Paul locking himself in dough room to make pizza dough. Had a blast working their R.I.P Mary and paul

  4. Sparty says:

    Does anyone have any idea how to make their famous kidney bean salad?? I’ve tried and nothing comes close.

  5. Lisa J Benson says:

    Reading this brings me such fond memories (& tears): Mary Deardorff was my Dad’s patient (Dr. Joseph) & we went there for so many family dinners. So many happy memories: I even had my “day after” wedding brunch in the Amythyst Room! Peppina’s was the best Italian restaurant in Metro Detroit…reflecting back on it makes me smile & miss home. I wish I could share some of her fabulous food (& recipes) to my kids so that they could experience a bit of Mary’s love. Still the pizza I’ve ever had!

  6. Danny Hidalgo says:

    1958! That was when I discovered Peppina’s and the absolutely unforgettable pizza! My brother Sam played baseball with Art Fontana, Mary’s brother. And the rest was history. Our ancestry was solid Mexican, but as a family, we were totally solid for all the food there. Lived and went to High School in Melvindale 1959-1963 where all events were followed by carloads of us would have pizzas brought out to the car and 6 pirana-like guys would burn the roofs of their mouths on the pizza, eating fast to get at the extra slices. My favorites were that shrimp/garlic bake with a Deluxe pizza with anchovies! Had our rehearsal dinner there in 1967. So many years, so many memories. Mary and I were friends. She knew I was an astrologer, and we had many conversations on the subject. Remember on the perimeter of the restaurant walls, the symbols of the zodiac facing the parking lot? My sister-in-law Bea had an inside connection and would have whole Italian cakes at her daughter Carla’s birthday parties! The waitresses were all exceptional and popular!! Over these last 15 years since its demise, when we run into ex-Peppinas people, even their children, we push them for the recipes, especially the pizza sauce. Thank you so much, for the memories.

  7. Krystina says:

    Ahhhh Pepinna’s! If only we had the recipe for the buffalo wing sauce! I would die to get a hold of that. Haven’t found anything like it anywhere. I know it was being sold as “Paula and Randy’s” several years back at Ray’s Prime Foods in Taylor then they stopped carrying it. My family and I were obsessed with their wings and that delicious sauce. AMAZING food. Miss this place so much!

  8. Debby Schmucker says:

    I grew up in Taylor in the 60’s and 70’s and going to Pepinna’s was often. Even after we moved to the Irish Hills and later in 1979 when I got married for years to come we would make the trip there just for their soup, pizza, pasta platter and finish off with a twisty. We would always make sure we brought a pizza home with us. All the memories surrounded by their great food cannot be forgotten.

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