Here are 3 ethnic markets you really need to check out in Macomb County

Macomb County has attracted people from all over the world as a destination to live and work.
Many of them have brought with them customs and tastes from their home countries and ancestral places of origin. Some have even opened up their own markets to share these international cuisines with their neighbors. With that in mind, here's a look at three noteworthy ethnic markets based in Macomb County. 

Victor Ventimiglia shows of some of the merchandise available at Ventimiglia Italian Foods.

Ventimiglia Italian Foods

If you're looking to get a taste of Italy in Sterling Heights, Ventimiglia Italian Foods should definitely be high on your list of places to visit. Located at 35197 Dodge Park Road, the deli and grocery store has plenty to offer both foodies and more casual customers.

"We are an old school Italian grocery, but we also have a fantastic sandwich counter," says owner Victor Ventimiglia. "We make tons and tons of subs everyday for lunch time."

The market's in-demand subs are made to order with high-quality meats and bread that is delivered fresh everyday. Ventimiglia's classic Italian and eggplant and rosemary ham subs are among the most popular selections. Beyond the subs, It offers fresh pasta and a variety of prepared foods including seafood, sandwiches, prepared meats, salad, hot soups, and a variety of sides. Visitors to the 2,500-square-foot market can also find gelato made in-house, as well as a wide range of Italian imported goods. Patio seating is available for customers interested in having a meal at the shop itself.

The shop has been a popular destination in Sterling Heights since 1981, but its legacy stretches back several generations. Antonio Ventimiglia, an Italian immigrant, got his start in Detroit selling fruit out of a cart and eventually opened a family market on the city's east side in 1942. Victor's grandfather later moved the location of the grocery to 8 Mile Road and Kelly Road. And the market eventually made its way to its current location in Sterling Heights. 

Ventimiglia Italian Foods is located right next door to Mangiabevi Urban Italian, an upscale casual restaurant whose executive chef, Mauro Querio, is a native of Monfalcone, Italy and a veteran of the Italian and Detroit food scenes. The menu there, which changes frequently, features an assortment of meat dishes, pasta, salads and seafood. The restaurant also features a full bar with a wide selection of wines. Diners should be sure to call ahead before visiting  Mangiabevi, as reservations are required.

Al Bataween Imported Food & Bakery is known for its freshly baked Middle Eastern breads.

Al Bataween Imported Food & Bakery

Al Bataween Imported Food & Bakery is the place to go for top-notch Middle Eastern-style bread.

"We've got the best bread," says owner Rivid Bahri. "We're voted the best bread by everybody that comes here. We have Iraqi bread and also tannour bread, which a lot of other countries do." 

Al Bataween Imported Food and Bakery can be found at 37821 Mound Road, where it's been operating for the last dozen years. Bahri's family also owns another market in Iraq with the same name, which is a reference to a residential district in Baghdad.

In addition to the bakery, Al Bataween is a full grocery with a meat department, fresh produce, beer and wine, and a variety of Middle Eastern spices and packaged items, as well as cooking supplies and household items. The store also features a gift shop and a carryout section where customers can purchase menu items like shawarma, hummus, falafel, and sandwiches.

Magdalena Srodek poses with some of Srodek's famous Polish sausage.Srodek's Campau Quality Sausage

Srodek's Campau Quality Sausage Sterling Heights market is carrying on a long-standing family tradition.

Srodek's recently opened a Sterling Heights store at 40211 Mound Rd, just north of the I-696 expressway. But the third-generation Polish grocery chain's roots stretch all the way over to Hamtramck, a small Wayne County city that's long been known to be a regional center for Eastern European life and culture. 

Walter and Marianna Srodek settled in Hamtramck after leaving Poland to escape the communist regime in the early 1980s and there soon opened their family's first market, which is still active to this day. Following demographic trends, the Srodeks eventually decided to open a second market in Macomb County.

The new 1,600-square-foot Sterling Heights market opened its doors in 2020. The grocery store features two smokehouses and a production facility, a deli and salad bar, baked goods, prepared foods, and an ample selection of imported specialty goods from Eastern Europe.

"We want to be the local neighborhood deli, but also with an ethnic flair," says Magdalena Srodek,  co-owner and manager of the Sterling Heights market. "We smoke all of our sausages and smoked meats right in-house. And we also offer pierogi and other goods that are made in Hamtramck and brought up fresh daily along with other goods."

In addition to kielbasa and pierogi, visitors to Srodek's can purchase items like paczki, sauerkraut, pickles, juices, candies, noodles and Eastern European brand cosmetics, as well as local Michigan offerings like maple syrup and Mackinac Island fudge. Right now, Srodek's is putting the finishing touches on a restaurant that will be part of the facility. It's expected to open later this year or early next year. 

Those looking to experience a little more of Poland while still staying in Sterling Heights, should make sure to check out the rest of the plaza where Srodek's is found. It's also home to Irena's Pastry and Bistro, a Polish bakery owned by Magdalena's aunt, and Polish Pride of Michigan, a Polish heritage apparel and souvenir shop.

Other ethnic grocery options

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ethnic markets in Macomb County. The region offers numerous Middle Eastern food options, including Olives Fruit Market in Macomb Township and Baghdad Market in Sterling Heights. Hankuk Oriental and Korean Market in Clinton Township offers a variety of East Asian options, while Pande Grocers in Sterling Heights is a good place to stop when it comes to South Asian cuisine. And those looking to purchase some Mexican groceries should check out La Mexicana Restaurant & Grocery in Romeo and Las Tortugas Taqueria & Market in Shelby Township, both of which also offer sit-in dining options. 

All photos by David Lewinski.

This series, made possible with the support of Macomb County, captures the stories of how residents and visitors live, work, and play in the region.

Read more articles by David Sands.