With its impressive facade and prime location, the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn has become one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.
But hidden inside on the second floor also lies what many consider one of the area's true culinary gems in Giulio & Sons Restaurant, which has become a favorite of both travelers and locals with its inspired Italian-American bistro-style menu since opening in 1976.
Mohamad Abou Ahmad, the restaurant's food and beverage manager since 2007, said that the restaurant has been successful because of its attention to individual customers' needs.
"Our goal is to make people comfortable and confident when they come into Giulio & Sons," Abou Ahmad said.
"We've been developing a lot of friends here."
Abou Ahmad, who came to the U.S. from Lebanon in 2002, knows that Lebanese cuisine is popular in the Dearborn area, but his current focus is on providing customers a dining experience unique to the area while still maintaining the family feel of other local restaurants.
"We like to provide something for the Dearborn customers that's totally different," Abou Ahmad said.
Halal versions of everything on the menu are available by request to accommodate the Muslim community, which is rare at similar upscale places. Special care is also taken to make sure that the halal meat is stored in a separate freezer and prepared in separate areas of the kitchen to maintain the integrity of the process. Vegan dishes can also be created to a customer's liking.
Abou Ahmad said that customers appreciate Giulio & Sons' attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile to please them.
"Customers come in and ask for servers by name," he said. "We like to establish special relationships with our customers and to make this a trustworthy place for everyone."
Abou Ahmad is always available to answer questions about the menu and to greet diners with a smile, as is Fouad Hamka, who serves as sous chef for Giulio & Sons and often visits with guests to discuss the intricacies of his signature creations.
"The customers will come in and call me by name; they know exactly what they want to order each week and sometimes they even call ahead to let me know they're coming," Hamka said.
From different specials every month to prime rib carving stations and brunch on Sundays to a build-your-own pasta section on the menu featuring a world of different combinations to try, Hamka keeps the menu fresh and exciting.
The robust Market Stand soup and salad bar is also offered with each meal and Giulio & Sons' famous Sweet Shop free after-dinner dessert bar features various cakes, ice creams, pastries, fresh fruit and other delights. A variety of canvas wines are also available.
Hamka also occasionally takes the time to share his love of cooking with guests, as he offers the "chef's table" where up to 12 guests can call ahead in order to dine in the kitchen and learn how to cook from one of Dearborn's true professionals.
In addition the luxurious main dining room punctuated by colorful murals of Italian villages, Giulio & Sons also offers its famous grotto room to guests. Featuring a charming Italian villa-type setting and holding up to 55 guests, the room is popular with parties of all kinds seeking a private, upscale atmosphere along with a comfortable, cozy feel.
"People might be intimidated by the expensive mentality of the grotto but we can work with any budget and make things happen," Abou Ahmad said.
"Making our customers happy is the number one priority here."
Giulio & Sons is located at 600 Town Center Drive in Dearborn inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the phone number is 313.982.6830.
Hours are 6:30 am-2:00 pm and 5:00 pm-10:00 pm Monday through Saturday; Sunday hours are the same except for brunch, which lasts until 3:00 pm.
Become a fan of the "Giulio & Sons Restaurant Notes" group on Facebook and tell your server to receive 10% off your next bill.