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The dish on dining



Calioto's Twelve 21 in Cedarburg has a shiny new look and a new small plate menu, too.

Milwaukeeís restaurant scene is always in a flux, whether due to the economy, desire for something new or to update with the times. So whatís happening these days in the local world of pots and pans? Here are a few tidbits to wet your whistle. Check mmagazinemilwaukee for more on local food and drink endeavors.

All in the numbers

A face-lift inside Galiotoís Twelve 21, located at 1221 Wauwatosa Road, Cedarburg, (262) 377-8085, makes for a dynamite look that is wowing its longtime fans and new friends. Owners Meg and Dave Galioto began thinking of renovations in 2009 and finally have their package all wrapped up and delivered, changing not just the dťcor but redoing the menu. Itís a far cry from the siteís old Black Wheel Tavern that the couple purchased and redesigned as their Vintage Grille in 2002.

Subsequently at Twelve 21, as a relieved Meg says, "There are no more plastic grapes." A restaurant consultant suggested incorporating the street numerals into the name because it simply sounds cool, too. Kelly Neumannís Vyolette Interior Design Consulting designed and contracted the project. For an added pat on the back, the restaurantís revamped logo, done by Phil Marzo of P.M. Design, recently won a major graphics award.

Chef Dave is of Sicilian heritage and is still doing his magic with sirloins, but has added 21 small plate menu items for under $12. Get it? Those numbers again! So look for blackened scallops with mango salsa, BBQ pork sliders and Cuban Reubens, along with traditional Galioto vintage veal tenderloin and pan-fried walleye.

Grapes of Grafton

Harald Tomesch and longtime graphic design and marketing whiz Allan Haas opened their Chiselled Grape Winery this summer in a restored century-old school house at the corner of Port Washington and Lakefield roads, 1206 Lakefield Road, Grafton, (262) 377-8777. It quickly became the perfect stopover for Packers fans heading north to Green Bay or vacationers Door County-bound and back.

A one-acre vineyard in the rear yard has plantings being readied for 2013 harvesting. Varieties include whatís considered the oldest grape in the world, Rkatsiteli, and the newest, Arctic; along with Alsatian GewŁrztraminer. Larger acreages are also being considered as the business matures. In the meantime, Tomesch and Haas bottle white and red California wines under their own label and ferment grapes from other Wisconsin growers.

The men were pals who linked up years ago over their love of music, particularly jazz, and wine. Haas still regularly performs as Al Pike and the Misfits Blues Band at area venues such as Mequonís Highland House.

Their winery store is open year-round, with books, cheese, chocolate, and complementary artwork by photographers Jeffery Weber and David Le Haye and watercolors by Erin Callahan Blum.

More vino

When in Bay View, wine shoppers can now get bottles to take home at Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar, 3001 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (414) 482-1446. This month, chef/owner Michael Engel opened an upstairs shop to sell cheeses, pates and charcuterie, wine glasses and related items for get-togethers. In addition, a small room on the second floor will be used for classes, tastings and private dining for up to 20 guests at a time.

Surging ahead

The Charro on Bluemound Road in Brookfield is no more. But SURG Restaurantís Omar Shaikh promises plenty of surprises and good things to come next year for the site. It will include an extensive menu developed by chef Aaron Patin, recently lured to Milwaukee from Chicago.

The original Charro, 729 N. Milwaukee St. (414) 431-5557, has added an aging room, with its first Kobe beef being stored there a few weeks ago and almost ready for Patinís winter carving. Heís also adding 10 new tacos to the menu here, using meats raised on the farm owned by SURG partner Mike Polaski.

Olympian bartender and ex-Vegas denizen Dustin Drankiewicz is concocting a wider range of cocktail delights both for Charro, as well as nearby Distil, 722 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 220-9411. For the latter, SURG is introducing numerous food items that can be shared by couples, in addition to its popular core burger scene. Included will be large platters of Wisconsinís prize-winning cheese. This month, housemade hot dogs will debut. Look for Hidden Creek Farms meatballs, as well.

Rumpusing with Bartolotta

The Joe and Paul Bartolotta restaurant dynasty continues to amaze, with its menu of eateries ranging from high end to middle brow to custard-licking good. The brothersí latest establishment, an upbeat gastropub called the Rumpus Room, opened in October on the site of the former Eaganís. For the restaurant premiere, Paul flew in from duties at his Ristorante di Mare at the Wynn Las Vegas. Joe did the interior designing himself, recycling vintage church chandeliers and floorboards that were once fence posts. Running the kitchen are top chef Andrew Ruiz, ably backed by chef de cuisine Matt Kesley, formerly of San Francisco. The Rumpusí 62-page beverage book looks daunting but is easily navigated.