Todd Stern and Craig Common

Their stylish menus are enticing enough to attract a loyal clientele of discriminating diners, but no matter how expert they are, restaurant people like to take a break from their own kitchens for a taste of someone else’s cooking
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Chocolate pudding with whipped cream, chocolate, and raspberries, from Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Ask Todd Stern of Small Plates where he likes to go when he gets away from his popular downtown dining spot and he replies, “That’s an easy question. I go to Loui’s Pizza in Hazel Park.” He goes for more than just the pizza, which he thinks is “great.” Stern says his favorite menu item at Loui’s is the steak-and-cheese hoagie, “very similar to a Philly cheese steak. It’s an amazing sandwich.” He also goes to Pasta Fagioli in Bloomfield Township where he favors the penne Bolognese and grilled shrimp with mustard sauce. And he says he sometimes drops by Assaggi Bistro in Ferndale for the chicken Francese.

Craig Common’s Chelsea restaurant, The Common Grill, keeps him busy much of the time. “I don’t get out much,” he says. But when he does, he might head for Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, where he orders from the list of daily specials, often choosing fresh fish. He also likes Angelina Italian Bistro in downtown Detroit. “The thin-crusted pizzas are excellent, as is the herb- and pine nut-crusted whitefish.” Closer to home, he likes the great service at Bistro Renaissance in Dexter, where he typically orders one of the daily specials.

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