First Look: Cent's Pizza and Goods, Opening Thursday, Aug. 19 in Detroit Shoreway

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click to enlarge After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021.

It’s been two and a half years since Vincent Morelli announced his plans for Cent's Pizza + Goods (5010 Lorain Ave., 216-862-6427), which originally was supposed to open on the Ohio City/Detroit Shoreway border in 2019. Covid and construction delays pushed back opening day countless times, but the restaurant finally will welcome its first guests this Thursday, August 19.

(Photos below.)

Formerly home to PM Security, the squat brick building has been transformed into a retro-cool slice of nostalgia that blurs the lines between antiquated and avant-garde. Sunkist-colored tables and countertops and black-felt letterboard menus share space with turntables, speakers and a discreet projector-and-screen system. Much of the front of the restaurant is dominated by a modular shelving system stocked with clothing, home goods, lifestyle products, independent magazines and high-quality pantry items like olive oils, vinegars, tinned fish, tomatoes and cherries.

“I’m just excited for people to see the space because that is a big part of why I wanted to do this,” explains Morelli. “I like design and creating this whole atmosphere is a huge part of it, so I think that, hopefully, will drive people and the food is the icing on the cake. Well, the other way around, obviously.”

When the bulk of the construction winded down a couple months back, Morelli fired up the Italian wood-fired pizza oven for weekend pop-ups. The limited curbside pick-up operation gave him time to master the dough, familiarize himself with the oven and train his cooks. When the doors open this week, phone-ahead service will end, replaced by dine-in and walk-up. Call-ahead ordering could resume in the future, he notes.

“Everyone in the neighborhood has been super-supportive so far,” he says. “I haven’t heard any negative feedback.”

There is room for 33 guests in the front and rear dining rooms plus room for more at the six picnic tables on the rear courtyard patio. Diners can expect a counter-driven operation, whereby orders are placed up front and food is brought to the table. Additional food and/or drink items can be ordered while seated.

In line with the easygoing, communal atmosphere, the menu kicks off with a roster of shareable snacks selected to pair with the house wood-fired bread. Build a feast with accompaniments like housemade butter, hand-pulled Stracciatella (the creamy center of burrata), ‘nduja (spreadable sausage), duck prosciutto and marinated white anchovies. Conservas lovers can grab cans of tinned fish off the shelves for the kitchen to plate up and serve.

For the main event, there are a dozen premade pies from which to choose, dressed with many of the same high-quality products that line the shelves. Diners also can build their own 12-inch, six-slice pies.

“We try to use good products, so it’s nice to show them,” says Morelli. “And I’m super into branding, so that goes into selecting the product.”

One final snag remains for Cent’s. Despite “having” a liquor license secured, Morelli was notified at the 11th hour that his shop is located in a dry district and will require a vote. With sufficient signatures secured, his plea goes before his precinct neighbors this November. If and when the measure passes, Cent’s will have offer beer, natural wines and a full bar. Until then, he says that guests are free to bring their own, paying a modest service fee in return.

Cent’s will be open Thursday through Monday for dinner only. Weekend lunches will be added down the road.
click to enlarge After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021.
click to enlarge After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021.
click to enlarge After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021.
click to enlarge After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021.
click to enlarge After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021.
click to enlarge After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
After much delay, Cent's Pizza will open on August 19, 2021.

About The Author

Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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