courtesy of Harlequin Bakery
The sights, scents and tastes of
Milwaukee’s specialty markets inspired our quest for the best in
sweet or savory bakery, artisan cheese, lean meat and homemade
sausage, ripe produce and the freshest seafood. Here you’ll discover
what makes each site exceptional, from service to selection. Then it’s
time for your own foodie adventure — new favorites are just waiting
to be discovered.
Warm, fresh bakery is what memories are made of, and an abundance
of local bakeries have a niche in the market of handmade products.
Whether you’re searching for a rare Italian sweet, the crispiest
French baguette, a wedding cake to wow your guests or the best café
sandwich, look no further than these shops.
Breadsmith - A focus on made-from-scratch bread defines Breadsmith,
which provides loaves to retail shoppers as well as restaurants and
upscale grocers via wholesale partnerships. The first store was
founded in Milwaukee, and franchises have since popped up around the
area. A stone hearth oven provides a crispy outer crust for country
buttertop (a soft white), multigrain, honey whole wheat and rustic
Italian. Some sweets are available, like cinnamon claws, muffins,
cookies and scones. Apple pie bread sells out daily — it’s a
spicy, filled variation of country buttertop. Chris Tuschen, son of
Wauwatosa owner Tom Tuschen, bakes at least 20 batches of the top 10
loaves per day, for ultimate freshness and full shelves.
Great HarvestBread Co. - Dawn Wright owns the Greendale location,
and enjoys the flexibility of a franchise business. "Our store
has a homey feel and I have the freedom to cater to my market,"
she says. With a total of 75 artisan recipes, about 20 breads are
featured each month, and nine breads are offered daily. Each is made
with whole grain wheat flour milled on-site, providing a longer shelf
life, zero fat and no cholesterol. Honey whole wheat is the bakery’s
signature loaf, but Oregon herb (an onion dill rye), Door County
cherry walnut and cinnamon swirl are other tasty flavors. When giving
holiday gifts, everyday breads are soon-to-be favorites available
year-round. Sandwiches and other sweet bakery items are available too.
La Tarte - "We have a French influence, but that wasn’t
intentional," claims owner Merry Churner, who named her bakery
after the gourmet pies she creates. The crusts trace back to her
great-grandmother’s recipe, whose basic cranberry pie was
"jazzed up" with the addition of walnuts — now a popular
holiday treat. Other wintertime delights are three varieties of
pumpkin, chocolate pecan and fresh fruit pies. Holiday cookies are
also made with traditional family recipes. Stop in weekday mornings
for an espresso and a sample of granola, fruit bread, coffee cake, bar
cookie or cupcake. A few tables are available inside, and alfresco
seating is a seasonal luxury.
Sendik’s Fine Foods - These Sendik’s locations truly go above
and beyond to meet customer needs, baking everything from scratch
on-site. Bakery Manager Celina Wilkerson says of her staff, "We
can make anything, and we will make anything." From unique treats
like panna cotta (Italian cooked cream) and napoleons (French
cream-filled pastries), to dessert breads, Kaiser rolls and fresh
fruit tarts, there is something for everyone. Cakes come custom or in
flavors like red velvet and raspberry eruption. Party platters are
available for special occasions, including holidays. "Everyone
loves their job; we provide help with a happy face," Wilkerson
courtesy of Harlequin Bakery
Simma’s Bakery - Old-World traditions are maintained at Simma’s,
originated by a young woman who brought Russian recipes to Wauwatosa.
Now operated by Simma’s daughter, Irina, the bakery is best known
for exceptional cheesecakes with a base of chocolate cake, a hint of
raspberry and a coating of ganache. These and conventional cakes can
be decorated as elegant tiered wedding cakes. Additionally, the bakery
sells a wide selection of tarts, brownies, bars, morning buns,
muffins, turnovers and danish. Custom decorated mini pastries are
available by advance order. Choose from tuxedo strawberries and other
chocolate-dipped fruits, cream puffs, cheesecake squares and fudge
Sweet Perfections - About six years ago, Ken and Peggy Heil
provided wedding cakes from their Brookfield home. Just 18 months
later, they moved into the Barstow store and expanded Sweet
Perfections to include artisan breads, gourmet cookies, English
scones, kringles, tortes and tarts. Ken, the pastry artist, remains
committed to cakes, and the wedding business has expanded so much he
is unable to meet every request. The store has also grown to include a
wholesale market for Sendik’s Fine Foods. Around Christmas, shop for
an array of butter cookies, hand-braided stollen, gingerbread cutouts,
Black Forest Yule logs and extra varieties of cheesecake.
V. Richards - V. Richards scratch bakery is your first sight upon
entering the store, with baker Mike Peplinski, cake decorator Julie
Brooks and their creations on display. Select from Brooks’ custom
occasion cakes, wedding cakes or premade cakes for your last-minute
occasions. Peplinski’s decorative desserts include fruit tarts with
strawberries, kiwi, mandarin oranges, raspberries and blueberries;
cookies; brownies; bars; cheesecakes and French tortes. Year-round
cream puffs are available through advance orders, and the catering
department offers dessert platters for your special occasions. Bread
is provided by the Breadsmith.
Other places to note:
Busha’s Fine Cakes & Pastries, 5721 Broad St., Greendale
(414) 855-0313; Canfora, 1100 E. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee (414)
486-7747; Lopez Bakery, 1100 W. Mitchell St., Milwaukee (414) 672-1830
and 1601 W. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee (414) 672-6808; Wild Flour Bakery,
2800 W. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee (414) 831-1692, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.,
Milwaukee (414) 298-9858, 422 E. Lincoln Ave., Bay View (414)
727-8145, 1205 Milwaukee Ave., South Milwaukee (414) 571-1298; C.
Adams Bakery at Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., Milwaukee
(414) 271-1871; Harlequin Bakery, 316 N. Milwaukee St., Milwaukee
(414) 291-YUMM; Boulangerie du Monde, W62 N588 Washington Ave.,
Cedarburg (262) 375-1050; Peter Sciortino’s Bakery, 1101 E. Brady
St., Milwaukee (414) 272-4623
courtesy of V. Richards
The dairy state boasts more than 100 artisan cheeses that often
take awards at the state, national and international levels. Even more
varieties are flown in from world markets, providing cheese
connoisseurs with a plethora of options at their favorite markets.
Sampling is always encouraged.
Albanese’s Market & Deli - Albanese’s Roadhouse has been a
Waukesha restaurant since 1980. The deli opened in Genesee in 2001,
but both businesses have since been combined to one location. Joe
Albanese, a third-generation employee, says his father, Dominic has
been in the business for 56 years and is a permanent fixture at the
store. The deli is where to shop for gourmet Italian cheeses, such as
fontina, gorgonzola, mozzarella and provolone. It’s also a
one-stop-shop for traditional Italian imports, such as meats, olives,
pasta salads and sausage. Gift baskets and boxes are available for any
occasion, as are catering and delivery services.
Brennan’s Market - Brennan’s, which has expanded Brookfield
palates since 1988, offers gourmet varieties bought direct from
Wisconsin cheese makers to ensure shoppers the best products. The
store’s roots in Green County mean a strong relationship with some
of the finest suppliers today. Also in stock are about 10 imports,
especially world champion cheeses. Skip Brennan created exotic
spreads, like blueberry chardonnay cheddar, fresh mozzarella and
basil, Wisconsin cherry wine and apple cinnamon cheddar. Other wine
cheddar blends include merlot and Riesling. The market boasts a large
selection of goat cheese, 9-year aged cheddar and fresh cheese curds.
During winter months, watch for gift boxes.
Sendik’s Fine Foods - Thomas Balistreri Jr.’s stores feature a
full-service "cheese chamber" stocked with more than 400
world and U.S. award-winning varieties. Mark Jezo-Sywulka is the
cheese manager and a chef by trade, who works with the Milk Marketing
Board. His interest is in mammoth cheeses, those 75 pounds or greater,
which have a richer, creamier flavor than most. He says Henning’s is
the only supplier that will produce a wheel more than 500 pounds; a
3,800 pound wheel of cheddar currently resides at the Franklin store.
The rest of the inventory includes unique and everyday cheeses, and
represents 28 countries as well as 120 Wisconsin cheese makers. Feel
free to explore the chamber, and to learn from the expertise of the
passionate staff. "We’re excited about the products and we’re
happy to provide detailed help," Jezo-Sywulka says.
V. Richards - Located in the delicatessen with world sausages, the
store’s cheese selection has a focus on European cheeses, although a
Wisconsin selection is also available. International items include
bries, blues, Swiss and those made with goat or sheep’s milk. At any
given time, expect to find 300 varieties and a staff knowledgeable on
them all. They can help you choose an assortment for wine tastings,
elegant dinners or custom appetizers. At the olive bar, you’ll find
blue cheese-stuffed olives and goat cheese jalapenos from Austria.
"You don’t have to go far to experience the world," says
store manager Gareth Owen-Webber.
Other places to note:
West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe, Milwaukee Public Market,
400 N. Water St., Milwaukee (414) 289-8333 and 6832 W. Becher St.,
West Allis (414) 543-4230; Wisconsin Cheese Mart, 215 W. Highland
Ave., Milwaukee (414) 272-3544; Larry’s Brown Deer Market, 8737 N.
Deerwood Drive, Brown Deer (414) 355-9650
courtesy of Rupena's Fine Foods
Milwaukee’s best butchers are the backbone of these markets,
where prime beef, all-natural pork and poultry come standard. Organic
options are also readily available. Don’t be afraid to ask for
custom cuts, and shop the prepared case for oven-ready meals.
Good Harvest Market - Good Harvest’s meat department sells 100
percent certified organic beef, pork and poultry. "These are
pampered animals," Christine Omdoll, meat and seafood manager,
says. "They are free-range, don’t contain hormones, and are
humanely raised and slaughtered." Oven/grill-ready items are
especially popular, such as asparagus and herb butter stuffed chicken
breast; Italian pinwheels of flank steak, mozzarella cheese, ham and
spinach; southwest burgers; rump roast and a variety of steaks.
Recipes, cooking tips and suggestions for side dishes are also
Grasch Foods - Brookfield’s first specialty grocer has been a
favorite of gourmet cooks since 1957. Best known for its meat
department, shoppers will find a wide selection of standard cuts as
well as specialty items ideal for holiday meals. All meats are prime
quality, from standing rib roast to tenderloin, veal scaloppini to
pork chops. Treat your family to a Christmas turducken (a turkey
stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken), rack of lamb, smoked duck,
caramelized pork or an Al Capone roast (stuffed with mushroom,
mozzarella, cheese, pizza sausage and black olives). For everyday
meals, choose from 22 varieties of sausage, made with beef, pork or
leaner meats like salmon, veal and turkey.
Haus of Prime Meats - Delafield’s gourmet meat market carries
only 100 percent USDA prime beef, which is aged for tenderness and
flavor. Owner Mike Frey’s beef was grain-fed, is trimmed for
leanness and can be organic, if you like. The five most popular cuts
are tenderloin, ribeye, New York strip, sirloin and porterhouse. He
also carries choice poultry, frozen seafood and homemade sausage. The
eight varieties are made only with pork, into brats, Hungarians,
Polish, Italians and breakfast sausage. Come for whole fryer chickens
or boneless, skinless breasts, standing rib roast, rack of lamb, and
Boar’s Head grand meats and cheeses in the deli.
Karl’s Country Market - A German emphasis classifies this corner
store, which offers free-range chicken and prime beef at the
personalized service counter. Beef is ground daily and is very lean,
rouladen and double-smoked ham are made in-store, fully cooked ribs
(extra meaty or regular) are available, as well as a wide selection of
roasts, tenderloin, pork loin and pork chops. Karl’s also has deli
foods, produce, imported specialty items, liquor and fresh bakery.
Consider gift boxes or gift cards for family and friends.
Sendik’s Fine Foods and Sendik’s Food Markets - An incredible
staff of butchers prepares standard and custom cuts for customers who
appreciate exceptional service. Sendik’s offers USDA choice or prime
Black Angus beef, all-natural pork and poultry, and Strauss lamb and
veal. "Oven-ready items add value," says Ted Balistreri,
co-owner of Sendik’s Food Markets. "They are fully seasoned and
delicious, and we do all the work." Organic chicken and beef is
also available, in addition to ostrich and buffalo. Fresh-made sausage
(for dinner or breakfast) is available in 14 styles. Holiday meats
include beef rib roast, pork crown roast, beef tenderloin or strip
loin, turducken, turkey and duck. Shop weekends to benefit from
demonstrations and tastings.
V. Richards - A gourmet selection of seasonal meat comes with the
help of a knowledgeable staff, eager to provide recipes, tips and
marinades. Chicken from Amish company Gerber’s Poultry is incredibly
fresh; it’s cut-to-order. You’ll also find Black Angus beef, lean
sausage made on-site, Badger ham, all-natural pork products and wild
salmon. Take home prepared items such as marinated pork loin, kabobs
or Italian-stuffed jalapenos. Special orders are also available.
Other places to note:
Bunzel’s Old Fashioned Meat Market, 8415 W. Burleigh St.,
Milwaukee (414) 873-7960; Ceriello Fine Foods at Milwaukee Public
Market, 400 N. Water St., Milwaukee (414) 277-7005; Outpost Natural
Foods, 100 E. Capitol Drive, Milwaukee (414) 961-2597, 2826 S.
Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee (414) 755-3202 and 7000 W. State St.,
Wauwatosa (414) 778-2012; Ray’s Butcher Shoppe, 4640 W. Loomis Road,
Greenfield (414) 423-1322; Rupena’s Fine Foods, 7641 W. Beloit Road,
West Allis (414) 543-7447
courtesy of Usingers Famous Sausage
The home of Usinger’s sausage is also a hot spot for
European-style fresh and smoked sausages. You’ll find an assortment
featuring the most traditional items to ethnic favorites to unique
sausage stuffed with cheese, veggies and spices.
Karl’s Country Market - Wisconsin’s award-winning bratwurst and
summer sausage are only two examples of the more than 100
European-style varieties at Karl’s. Its bologna and summer sausage
has even taken German awards. Everything is made in-store in one of
four smokehouses. Also look for wieners, chicken and turkey brats, and
Sausage Haus Meat & Deli - The Jerabek’s store offers beef
and pork fresh sausage in all-natural casings, and some smoked
varieties. A twist on tradition results in Italian sausage flavored
with cheese and green peppers, Hungarians spiced with jalapenos, and
summer sausage with or without garlic. Beef sticks, beef jerky, and
all-beef dog bones are available too. Fresh meats such as choice
steaks, baby back ribs, hand-dipped Italian chicken breasts and
tenderloins are also for sale. Hunters should inquire about having
their wild game processed by professionals.
Usinger’s Famous Sausage - Usinger’s has been making German
sausage in Milwaukee since 1880. Fred Usinger immigrated to America,
married into the family of his employer (a local butcher), changed the
business name and began selling his sausage to taverns and restaurants
across the country. At the turn of the last century, very traditional
items (like head cheese and blood sausage) were the mainstream, but
today’s market prefers more common ethnic sausages. Top sellers are
brats, wieners, summer sausage, knockwurst, specials like chicken
cordon bleu or corned beef sausage, chorizo and Italians. Holiday
boxes are great gifts for out-of-town family and friends. Be sure to
stop by the seconds counter for imperfect meats — sausages that are
too fat/skinny/long/short. "You never know what you’ll
find," says Vice President Jon Gabe.
V. Richards - Visit the delicatessen for international sliced and
cured meats. German Stiglemeier sausages include gelbwurst,
schinkenwurst, liver sausage, jagdwurst and blood sausage. A selection
of 27 salamis includes Italian sopressata and Genoa, German, Hungarian
and Bavarian. Three types of prosciutto are Parma prosciutto,
prosciutto d’ San Danielle and domestic prosciutto Americano. Also
available are the rare Spanish jamon Serrano, hot coppa, beef bresoala
and Westphalia ham.
Other places to note:
House of Homemade Sausage, W14934 Mequon Road, Germantown (262)
251-9954; C & R Market, 3001 S. 9th Pl., Milwaukee (414) 747-9158;
European Homemade Sausage, 1985 S. Muskego Ave., Milwaukee (414)
Rupena’s Fine Foods, 7641 W. Beloit Road, West Allis (414)
543-7447; Outpost Natural Foods, 100 E. Capitol Drive, Milwaukee (414)
961-2597, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee (414) 755-3202 and 7000
W. State St., Wauwatosa (414) 778-2012; West Allis Cheese &
Sausage Shoppe, Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., Milwaukee
(414) 289-8333 and 6832 W. Becher St., West Allis (414) 543-4230
courtesy of Outpost Natural Foods
While shoppers once looked forward to specific seasons of fresh
produce, now the world is our marketplace. The wait is over for sweet
pineapple, crisp pears, juicy tomatoes and green sprouts — these
items are available daily. And at these markets, each product is hand
selected for utmost quality.
Brennan’s Market - When Frank Brennan started out in 1942, he
opened a stand of hand-selected produce. That dedication to
exceptional quality continues today, reinforced by knowledgeable staff
at all levels. An investment in international products ensures nothing
is ever out of season, from South African oranges to Door County
cherries, Chilean plums to Maui Gold Hawaiian pineapple (the world’s
sweetest). Fresh shipments arrive daily. "There’s always
something exciting in our store," says manager Dennis Scheid.
Custom or standard fruit baskets make great gifts, and can be shipped
Good Harvest Market - "It’s not our market, local growers
bring their market to the store," says produce manager Mark
Klosowski. Good Harvest’s niche is a store full of organic products,
from Wisconsin suppliers as much as possible. International products
from reputable sources (those that are third-party certified) are also
available, ensuring nothing is ever out of season. Winter is a great
time for Wisconsin butternut squash, brussel sprouts, onions,
potatoes, three colors of beets and spinach. "There is a
misconception that organic produce is more expensive, but if you buy
in-season, pricing is very competitive," Klosowski says. There is
also a higher nutritional value in products that are just harvested.
If you’re looking for a healthy lunch, look no further than the
fresh salad bar — all organic, of course.
Sendik’s Food Markets and Sendik’s Markets - "Produce is
in our roots," says Ted Balistreri, co-owner of Sendik’s Food
Markets. "We take a lot of pride in carrying the best products
for the best value." At his stores, orange juice is so fresh it
is squeezed and bottled in front of customers’ eyes, and distributed
immediately. John Sendik, grandson of Anthony B. Sendik of the first
Sendik’s Market, has noticed an increase in customer desire for
international products at their local store. Selections include red
Thai peppers, Australian navel oranges, Dutch cherry tomatoes and
Oregon comice pears. "With all these options, what do you choose
not to buy?" Sendik asks. While most produce is available
year-round, certain items remain seasonal. "Mother Nature still
plays a role," Balistreri says. Sendik encourages his customers
to bring labels from foods they ate on vacation, or the name of a
product they discovered through the Food Network. "They keep us
on our toes," he says. "It opens our world to new
V. Richards - Owner John Nehring has a passion for produce;
hand-selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables directly from the
purveyors each morning. Consequently, V. Richards boasts exotic and
hard-to-find items, such as fiddlehead ferns and white and black
truffles. Traditional, in-season items are readily available as well.
Shop the department for products from "Just Veggie,"
"Just Fruit" and Wienke’s Market, bulk nuts and fresh
herbs. The Elegant Farmer’s famous paper bag pies are also found at
Other places to note:
Beans & Barley Market, 1901 E. North Ave., Milwaukee (414)
278-7878; Outpost Natural Foods, 100 E. Capitol Drive, Milwaukee (414)
961-2597, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee (414) 755-3202 and 7000
W. State St., Wauwatosa (414) 778-2012
courtesy of Sendik's Food Markets
The city of beer and brats now appreciates the more refined flavors
of fish and shellfish from around the globe. Shop exotic or everyday
from fishmongers with an obsession for the freshest and finest the
ocean has to offer.
Empire Fish - With wholesale and retail shops in the same building,
nearly all seafood (fresh, frozen or smoked), is readily available at
the best prices. Empire caters to the at-home cook, so you won’t
find prepared sushi. They do carry a wide selection of nori sheets,
wasabi paste, rice and sushi-grade fish, such as yellow tail, tuna and
shrimp. Wild crop fish is seasonal, but watch for varieties caught by
Hawaiian divers, or a perfect piece of salmon. Lobsters and crab legs
are available in all sizes. The retail side is undergoing a face-lift,
for brighter spaces and top-of-the-line equipment.
Good Harvest Market - Seafood at Good Harvest Market is held to the
highest standards. It is always fresh and never includes artificial
sweeteners or MSG. The World Wildlife Fund reports that 70 percent of
the world’s fisheries are over-fished, so Good Harvest chooses
seafood from environmentally friendly suppliers that maintain healthy
fish stocks and preserve surrounding ecosystems. For that reason, you’ll
never find Chilean sea bass, says Christine Omdoll, meat and seafood
manager. She also mentions a preference for local fisheries. But that
doesn’t mean you won’t find international selections. Look for
farm-raised tilapia, Alaskan cod, striped marlin, Hawaiian mahi-mahi,
Florida red snapper, jumbo scallops and yellowfin tuna from the
Marshall Islands. Omdoll also recommends her smoked salmon spread:
"It flies off the shelf."
Grasch Foods - The world provides tasty oysters, caviar, scallops
and fresh fish at Grasch Foods. If you’re in the market for seafood,
you’ll find stone crab claws, three sizes of fresh shrimp, lobster
tails from Maine and Honduras in addition to live lobster, and a
plethora of dips and spreads made with baby squid, octopus and wasabi
lobster. Prefer fish? Choose from Scottish wild salmon; Hawaiian ulua,
onaga, ono, mahimahi and ahi; salmon from Norway, Scotland, Alaska and
the Great Lakes; and domestic or imported herring. Sushi rolls are
located in the prepared case.
Mitchell’s Fish Market - This restaurant also does retail
business. "Anything served in the restaurant is for sale,"
says executive chef Justin Rupert, "and we can have special
orders within 24 hours." The catch-and-carry menu features six or
seven varieties of oysters, wild blue mussels, four sizes of shrimp in
all stages of preparation, calamari tubes and tentacles, crab legs,
live lobster or just tails, and two types of clam. At least 12 species
of fish change daily, with exotic options like South American parrot
fish. "We have a freshness obsession," Rupert says. Also
available are ingredients to prepare gumbo, chowder and lobster
bisque, premade crab cakes and sushi-style salmon and tuna.
Sendik’s Markets and Sendik’sFine Foods - An obsessive
fussiness with freshness and quality is a necessity when selling
seafood products. Patty, the seafood manager at Sendik’s Fine Foods,
will refuse products if they don’t meet her standards, and purchases
whole species as often as possible to ensure freshness. Meri Jo is
meticulous about cleanliness at Sendik’s Markets, ensuring the case
is emptied and scrubbed several times a week. "If someone said
our seafood department smelled, she would take it personally,"
says her brother John Sendik, vice president of the stores. Check
their cases for white sea bass, farm-raised salmon, rainbow trout,
Great Lakes whitefish, walleye and swordfish, as well as shellfish
like softshell crab, oysters, clams and shrimp. A smoked fish platter
will be a hit at your holiday table.
Other places to note:
St. Paul Fish Co. at Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St.,
Milwaukee (414) 220-8383; West Allis Fish Market, 5909 W. Burnham St.,
West Allis (414) 545-6144; Al’s Seafood Market, 6001 W. Mequon Road,
Mequon (262) 238-1212 m