Michigan has a lot of great things to offer: a good education, delicious donuts and a beautiful autumn season. Yes, Michigan is an expert in so many things — pizza is not one of them. As a New Jersey Italian, I was hesitant to eat out in Ann Arbor, mourning the loss of my favorite cuisine. Then, during my visit to the University for Campus Day, I ventured into a promising-looking place called Mani Osteria — and was blown away.

In Italy, an osteria is a place serving wine and simple food. While Mani offers more than just wine (the Dolce Vita, a cocktail containing gin, limoncello, prosecco and blackberry/ginger syrup, is joy contained in a champagne flute), they’ve mastered the art of simple yet exceptional food, and the pizza is the star. The cipollini is a personal favorite; a beautiful symphony of mozzarella, bacon, roasted arugula and balsamic. For the less adventurous members of your group, the margherita and pepperoni pie are classics brought to a never-before found level. It may be hard to find a decent slice of pizza in Michigan, but in Mani Osteria you won’t even care — every bite makes you feel like you’re in Rome, eating with the locals.

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