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Wine bars, sushi and 'cue

Photos by Dan Bishop

March 2013


With spring’s warmer temps on the horizon, several new restaurants, coffee shops and bars debuted — even during the cold snaps of winter. The Ruby Tap (1341 Wauwatosa Ave., Wauwatosa), which actually opened in August, ushered in the frenzy with a new concept: wine on tap and wine dispensers. Inside this cozy Village of Wauwatosa spot, innocuously tucked behind a Baskin-Robbins store, is a glossy wine-dispensing machine, Wisconsin-artisan-cheese and charcuterie plates, bite-sized desserts, and wines tapped from kegs (the newest vino trend).

Another wine bar recently debuted, this one on the East Side. Divino Wine & Dine (2315 N. Murray Ave.) quietly opened just before Christmas in the former Palermo Villa. In fact, the pizzeria’s pizza is on the menu, proof that a restaurant closure isn’t necessarily the end. Divino Wine & Dine shares the same owners as Nessun Dorma in Riverwest and in addition to piping-hot pizzas, the dinner menu includes small plates and half-orders of hearty pasta dishes — perfect pairings for a by-the-glass wine list of Italian favorites like Chianti and Prosecco, as well as Argentine malbec and Washington merlot.

Fellow East Side newcomer Fushimi 88 (2116 N. Farwell Ave.), which opened in December, offers up a rare meal in Milwaukee: a sushi buffet. For lunch ($12.95) and dinner ($20.95-$23.95) all sushi pieces are made to order for an all-you-can-eat feast, in addition to a selection of hot/cold Japanese dishes, from soups to desserts.

Ruby Tap

Giving in to winter’s pull toward comfort foods, Big Daddy’s Brew & ‘Que (5800 N. Bayshore Drive, Glendale) opened at Bayshore Town Center in early February with down-home lunch and dinner menus that are an ode to all things barbecue, such as Southern-inspired starters (fried green and red tomatoes, for example), sandwiches, St. Louis and Baby Back ribs and two entrees designed for groups. The Big Daddy’s Feeding Frenzy (beef tenderloin, beef brisket, rib tips, pulled pork, pulled chicken, fries, baked beans and cornbread) is enough for two, while Daddy’s Pig Trough (all of the above, plus ribs) suits a table of five or six people.

Riverwest Filling Station (701 E. Keefe Ave.) also opened its doors in late January, inside the former Albanese’s in the funky Riverwest neighborhood, catering to locals with not just gastropub cuisine (like Indonesian shrimp stew over udon noodles), but beer growlers and a menu of exquisite whiskeys too. Another restaurant space reborn is Bourbon & Tunns Tavern (221 N. Broadway) where Palms Bistro once stood. The owners of the fairly new Attebury’s Pub in St. Francis debuted the Wisconsin-tavern-meets-artsy-Third-Ward concept — complete with a food menu — in late December only to be sidelined by a fire two weeks later. Plans are to reopen in March. William Phelps, who used to cook at Café Manna in Brookfield, plans to fold in a lot of Midwestern-grown ingredients.

Coming up, Bavette La Boucherie (330 E. Menomonee St.), inside the former Kafevino come March, proves that the artisan-butchering craze hasn’t simmered: former Madrid, Spain, restaurant owner (Karen Bell) plans to hone in on retailing locally and sustainably harvested meats. There will be a café menu too, with glasses of wine picked by Bell’s sister (Jessica Bell, owner of Milwaukee Wine School).


This story ran in the March 2013 issue of: