Michigan’s Best Local Eats: Try Jack Daniels-infused BBQ Pizza at this Flint Italian restaurant

FLINT, MI — Through some experimentation with ingredients, Latina Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria owner Mike Hawley came up with the idea himself — a specialty pizza with a blend of Jack Daniels whiskey and Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.

The “to die for” specialty pizza, which comes in two sizes and is hand made in a brick oven, is a consistent seller at the restaurant that’s been in the Flint area since 1967.

Latina Restaurant and Pizzeria is located at 1370 W Bristol Rd. in Flint near Donna’s Donuts.

Hawley and his wife purchased the business from its original owners Duilio and Mary Costanza in 1995 after working for the family’s restaurant since 1974.

The restaurant, which touts its tagline “Latina is the place — Great food is the taste” on its sign, seats 180 customers at capacity.

In recent times, Hawley said they’ve seen business go from about two-thirds in-person dining to two-thirds takeout dining due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With shortages in servers, extended supply chain waits and the pandemic, the take-out trend has actually benefitted the restaurant in some ways, Hawley said.

“Consistency is what I strive for,” Hawley said. “The longevity — we are always open and there for the public.”

Other popular dishes include lasagna and antipasto salad. The menu is a mix of authentic and Americanized Italian food with pasta, baked pasta, pizza, Stromboli, burgers, subs and wraps.

“The food is the difference,” Hawley said, when asked what sets Latina’s apart from other Italian restaurants. “… The secret to the lasagna is in the meat sauce.”

The restaurant has weekday food specials and a happy hour from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Mondays are a discount on lasagna, Tuesdays are discounted spaghetti, Wednesdays are discounted Stromboli and Thursdays are discounted steak and onion Stromboli.

Hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays, according to Latina’s website.

Latina’s also provides delivery through DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats.

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