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The dish on dining
Fresh is the operative word among the latest wave of restaurants to open around town

Photos by Dan Bishop

July 2014

Salotto Zarletti

At Salotto Zarletti, Brian Zarletti’s latest venture, everything is made from scratch, from the cream-stuffed burrata cheese to the wood-fired pizzas. The only exclusion is the gluten-free pasta, which is made in Madison.

Chef Andrew Miller’s menu stays close to its Southern Italian roots. The preparation for the fresh fish of the day changes along with the fish, capitalizing on seasonal ingredients. Some recent presentations include a pan-roasted black bass with prosciutto di parma, ramps, blood oranges and asparagus; and a roasted monkfish with fava beans, spring peas, local morel mushrooms and a white wine, dill and tarragon emulsion. "We get creative with local Wisconsin ingredients, but we use them in a Southern Italian aesthetic," Miller says.

Must-try menu items include the arancini rice balls — saffron-infused rice stuffed with braised pork shoulder and smoked mozzarella, topped with a pork shoulder ragout; the fennel seed cavatelli topped with blistered tomatoes, sausage, rapini, garlic-white wine sauce and finished with bone marrow; and the burrata. "We make our burrata cheese fresh every day, so fresh that it’s made just two hours before you order it," Miller says. It’s served with grilled bread and Sicilian extra virgin olive oil.

As the growing season peaks this summer, Miller will be working with a lot of local farms, making homemade mustards, pickles and preserves, as well as doing more in-house cured salamis.

1515 W. Mequon Road, Mequon
(262) 241-5990

Central Standard Distillery

The new Central Standard Distillery in Walker’s Point is the brainchild of partners and friends Evan Hughes, Pat McQuillan and Brandt Foster. Milwaukee’s second distillery — and one of only a handful in the entire state — opened its doors in June after two years of planning.

Distiller Brian "Blaze" Blazel crafts artisan rye vodka, gin and white whiskey. The distillery not only offers tours and tastings, but cocktails are also served. "The vodka is really smooth tasting, and you can drink it on the rocks as it’s not a harsh vodka," McQuillan says.

The gin has a variety of botanicals such as juniper, chamomile and lavender. The botanicals were narrowed down from an original tasting of 30; it’s more of a floral gin, along the lines of a Hendrick’s, not a Beefeater. The white whiskey is oat-based, which makes it milder and sweeter than other whiskeys. "Some people are scared of white whiskeys, thinking they’ll taste like moonshine or white lightening, but good ones really work well in cocktails, and many mixologists really enjoy using them," McQuillan says. The whisk tea — whiskey and iced tea — is another popular drink.

The owners plan to age whiskey and develop other spirits and cocktails for the tasting room. "We are really appreciative of the people in the industry here who have been so gracious to us," McQuillan says. "Guy Rehorst of Great Lakes Distillery has been supportive, and Brian Ellison of Death’s Door has been more than helpful."

613 S. 2nd St.

North Shore Boulangerie

Weekday lunches are busy at the new North Shore Boulangerie in Shorewood. Baker/owner Gene Webb studied in Paris and at the French Pastry School in Chicago before opening his own cafe and bakery. Croissants — both chocolate and almond — fly off the shelves, as do baguettes. "We add a little bit of rum to the almond croissants, and that seems to be the thing that makes them special," he says. French country bread is also quite popular, and that’s the bread Webb and his chefs use for sandwiches.

Other highlights include savory chef Kris Collette’s salad nicoise made with salmon, as well as her quiche lorraine and vegetable quiches. The bakery is open seven days a week; lunch service starts at 11:30 a.m. Weekend brunch is more leisurely. If you can manage to save room, order the lemon tart or tarte au citron.

4533 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood
(414) 963-2153

Purple Door Creamery

As the temperatures climb, the line grows at Purple Door Creamery’s new digs in Walker’s Point for its "flights" of ice cream, which feature four small scoops, served in bowls on a wooden board. The creamery also serves sundaes, shakes and malts, along with plain old scoops.

For me, a real summer treat is an ice cream soda. A proper ice cream soda is not like a root beer float. It’s ice cream and syrup blended into club soda and often topped with whipped cream and a cherry. You have to ask for the whipped cream at Purple Door, and I recommend doing so. "Our co-owner Lauren’s grandmother used to be a soda jerk, back in the day, so it’s her recipe we use," says Harmony St. Laurent, retail manager. "They’re very refreshing for summer."

205 S. 2nd St.
(414) 988-2521



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