A-Z Guide to Dining and Imbibing in Milwaukee
It seems Milwaukee’s
culinary and drink scenes score highly on some national list on a
near monthly basis. And just about every other week, some new
restaurant or food purveyor or brewery opens in the city. It’s kind
of hard to take it all in. Never fear. We’ve got you covered. Here’s
our A-to-Z guide to everything enticing in Milwaukee.
Advanced sommelier and
multi-unit director for The Bartolotta Restaurants.
Is Milwaukee’s craft
brewery market reaching near saturation? How many breweries are too
many? What does it take to open a brick-and-mortar brewery? We ask
Milwaukeeans from three local breweries to weigh in, and reveal how
today’s craft beer scene is redefining Brew City.
MAKER / Q&A
Joshua Rodgers, Executive Chef
Smyth at the Iron Horse Hotel
What type of food can
diners expect from Smyth?
At Smyth, we cook approachable, modern-American cuisine. We make
many of our products in house, such as our goats milk yogurt, pastas
and ricotta cheese, and we locally source all of our seasonal
MAKER / Q&A
Joe Heppe, Head chef I.D. Delafield
Are there any food
trends that you wish would just end already?
Most food trends are irrelevant. Just because kale isn’t the “hot
vegetable” doesn’t mean I will stop using it.
Profile: Kate Ansay of Ansay International
are at the heart of the insurance and real estate businesses Kate
Ansay’s grandfather, Adolph, and father, Mike, built in Ozaukee
County. They’re also the how and why Kate Ansay, with her background
in urban planning, got into the beer and wine importing business.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
to the historic Knickerbocker on the Lake hotel, The Knick is just a
walk away from Milwaukee’s downtown district. Along with running
daily specials to test out new dishes, The Knick also changes the
menu a few times a year to bring in flavors of the season. This
fall, that seasonal dish is a sweet potato gnocchi.
We live in a city with
dozens of great restaurants, but what exactly defines a “foodie
experience”? Which restaurants offer something truly memorable? Here
we round up five experiences to try this winter.
Profile: George Gaspar and Sari Schiff of The Bacon Co.
Entrepreneurs and business partners Sari Schiff and George Gaspar
were working on an international health care initiative when Schiff
started telling Gaspar about these succulent, melt-in-your-mouth
bacon sandwiches that were unlike any she had ever tasted — and how
she thought they could bring them to Milwaukee.
Can you get a
delicious dish with only six ingredients or fewer (not including
salt or pepper, of course)? Just a handful of well-chosen,
high-quality ingredients in the hands of an able chef become sublime
dishes — craveable cuisine that embraces simplicity.
Located in downtown Hartland, Zesti is chef/owner Michael Feker’s
dream of celebrating the cuisines and cultures that infused his
culinary background brought to life. An industrial-chic interior,
complete with rustic, wood beams overhead and a Cream City brick
wall, exudes warmth and coziness, creating an inviting atmosphere,
and the seasonally inspired menu transports guests to every corner
of the globe.
Profile: Jennifer and Jason Gorman of the Ambassador Hotel
Jennifer and Jason Gorman make a formidable team. This married
couple recently took over the entire food and beverage operations of
the Ambassador Hotel. The culinary powerhouse didn’t just tweak the
menus and call it a day — they started the concepts from scratch to
create entirely new entities, transforming the lackluster Envoy into
the energetic The Fitz, the ho-hum Envoy Lounge into the Gin Rickey,
and the old breakfast café into the craveable Deco.
House’s Bacon Brie Burger
away from the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, the Stilt House beckons
bicyclists, tourists and locals alike with its cozy charm,
unpretentious menu and 31 rotating beers on tap. Many of its
offerings, such as the excellent grilled romaine salad, feature just
a few ingredients prepared simply but expertly. Visit the Cedarburg
gastropub, and the welcoming staff will tell you the story of its
Profile: Justin Winkler of Stella Van Buren
Winkler is no relation to the actor who played the Fonz, but since
becoming the opening executive chef for Stella Van Buren, the
Italian steakhouse at The Westin Milwaukee, the question has come
This classically trained, Culinary Institute of America grad has
worked in upscale hotels and resorts across the country, most
recently at the helm of Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key
of the Month: Wy’East Pizza’s Deschiutto Pie
Like many of the pies on Wy’East’s menu, the deschiutto is named for
a landmark within the Cascade Range. “The name ‘deschiutto’ is a
play off of the Deschutes River and (the word) prosciutto,” explains
Ann Brock, who co-owns the pizzeria with her husband, James Durawa.
not just the flavor of those rock-hard candies your granny keeps in
a bowl on her coffee table, next to her plastic-covered couch.
Several local chefs have transformed this old-fashioned flavor in
delicious new ways. Here are some of our favorites.
of the Month: Ono Kine Grindz’s Saimin
As if the tender kalua pulled pork and sweet
carrot-pineapple slaw weren’t enough reason to stop at Ono Kine
Grindz, the East Tosa restaurant also serves a Hawaiian version of
ramen called saimin. “It literally means ‘little noodles’ — ‘min’ is
noodle, ‘sai’ is little,’” says co-owner David Lau.
PROFILE: Pat McQuillan and Evan Hughes of Central Standard Craft
An idea scribbled on the back of a bar napkin led
friends Evan Hughes, publisher of Draft Magazine, and Pat McQuillan,
a former banker, to found Milwaukee’s second craft distillery. The
idea came in 2012, the distillery opened its doors in 2014, and now,
just three years later, the partners are moving production from
Walker’s Point to 2330 W. Clybourn St., but they’re keeping the
original distillery open for tastings and test batches.
OF THE MONTH: Braise’s Steamed Pork Buns
The availability of fresh produce surges
in the summer, making healthier options less difficult to come by
when dining out, but there are certain dishes worth indulging in,
like Braise’s steamed pork buns. “They’re a staple,” says Matt
Plummer, Braise’s chef de cuisine. “A go-to item for any newcomers,
and all of our regulars like them too.”
Our beloved City of Festivals kicks off
its 2017 season this month, and we’d be lying if the indulgent
festival fare, from deep-fried favorites to internationally inspired
bites, didn’t excite us almost as much as the festivals themselves.
Tantalize your taste buds and prep your tummy for what lies ahead
OF THE MONTH: Summer Fresh
Summer may be the best season in
southeastern Wisconsin, and it’s hard to do better than a sunny
afternoon spent lakeside. Port Washington charms with its lake views
and farm-to-table restaurant Twisted Willow, where executive chef
James Flatley takes great care to design dishes that look as good as
creates new specials, unique food offerings to keep them coming back
— Stepping into Maxim’s at Oconomowoc Depot may
feel like taking a step back in time, but
ordering off the menu feels current thanks to
the updates made by new general managers Ross
and Kayla Bukatz.
PROFILE: MARIJA AND VESNA MADUNIC OF KINDRED
Sisters and business partners Marija and Vesna Madunic
own Gracious Events, Wauwatosa’s Firefly and their newest venture,
Kindred restaurant on KK. The two savvy women sat down at a
just-arrived table at Kindred, as furniture and final design touches
were being installed, to talk about family and food and sharing a
space with Kinn, Bay View’s brand-new, eight-room micro-hotel.
OF THE MONTH: Clean and Crisp
Old is new again at Belfr Kitchen in downtown Delafield. Housed
within a building constructed in 1868 as a Presbyterian church, the
decidedly modern Lake Country restaurant opened last October after
nearly six months of renovations.
During the first Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week (MBRW),
my husband and I entered a happily bustling Irie Zulu, a new
Wauwatosa restaurant serving African and Jamaican food in the space
that previously housed the long-standing Kay’s Bridal Shop.
OF THE MONTH: Comfort Zone
“The place is designed to feel like you came to our house for
dinner,” says Jason Tofte, co-owner with his wife, Cristina, of
Tofte’s Table in downtown Waukesha. A mix of Mason jars, crystal
wine glasses and antique serving utensils plus the pair’s regular
table visits to chat with guests lend a relaxed atmosphere to the
elegant space painted deep purple.
If you want to feel like Ernest Hemingway enjoying a
cocktail after a day of writing in 1930s Spain, check out Vermutería
600, the aptly named vermouth bar at the brand-new Hotel Madrid in
Understanding Milwaukee’s food culture —
both past and present — requires a brief look back at the city’s
history and the heritage of its people.
PROFILE: ALAN AND LAURA SWAN, CJ'S PREMIUM SPICES
The idea was simple: Create a blend of spices for
foolproof potato salad that anyone could use. But there was a catch:
Use no additives or preservatives, and still feature shelf
stability. Professional pilot Alan Swan and his wife, Laura, who
works in corporate retail, achieved their goal, and together,
they’re now expanding CJ’s Premium Spices, looking to reach more
home and commercial cooks.
OF THE MONTH: Grimm Reaper
once was a collaborative kitchen in the neighborhood of Bay View
whose chefs devised a multicourse meal every year on Halloween. One
year each course burst forth from a different seed of inspiration:
its own dark fairy tale compiled by the Brothers Grimm.
Profile: Anne Marie Arroyo and Tamela Greene of Moxie
Tamela Greene and her wife, Anne Marie Arroyo, named
their new restaurant Moxie, but they could have easily called it
Serendipity, as the divine seems to have touched them at almost
every step of their path to restaurant entrepreneurship.
OF THE MONTH: Sourcing Elegance
When Ristorante Bartolotta opened
its doors nearly 25 years ago, many Milwaukeeans flocked to the
Tuscan-charmed restaurant in search of spaghetti and meatballs, says
Jana Michaelis, creative director of The Bartolotta Restaurants.
“People couldn’t fathom that Italian food was this elegant, rustic
thing,” she adds.
Profile: Bryan Phillips
Bryan Phillips leads an adventurous life. From
apprenticing under James Beard star Sandy D’Amato and opening
Wauwatosa’s Le Reve to feeding race pros as the executive chef for
IndyCar, Phillips’ chef career has been anything but boring. His
latest endeavor is starting his own food truck, Foxfire, with Maggie
Reid, his girlfriend and business partner.
In Lindsay Heights, there are a lot of flexitarians, so a lot of
people don’t eat pork or beef but will eat chicken without batting
an eye,” says Caitlin Cullen, chef at The Tandem. To that end, she
offers three options: a Dominican-style roasted chicken for
health-conscious diners; Georgia fried, which she explains is a
traditional fried chicken; and spicy, Memphis-style fried chicken,
& A Show
Dining out is a mainstay form of
entertainment, but for some restaurants, the kitchen really is the
show, with chefs slicing, dicing, searing and frying right in front
of diners. Five local chefs discuss the pleasures — and the perils —
of cooking onstage.
Trendy sushi bowls, gourmet
sandwiches and a restaurant within a restaurant.
It’s no secret that Blue’s Egg, with its charming retro atmosphere, is
a treat for brunch. Get to the west side restaurant early, or plan
for a long wait. That said, you’ll forget about any delay you may
have endured when the first taste of what you order hits your
little over a year ago, La Masa Empanada Bar brought a simple yet
brilliant concept to Brady Street: a menu focused on the Latin
American-style turnovers of golden-baked pastry filled with savory
or sweet ingredients.
With her ninth book, “Drink
Like a Woman,” out now, M’s longtime food and drink writer, Jeanette
Hurt, talks cocktails, the history of women in bartending and the
value of homemade simple syrup.
When the leaves have turned and
there’s a chill in the air, the delicate pastries and ice-cold
sorbets of summers past are not what we crave. Instead we want
something hearty and warm, something that comforts the body and the
soul — something like bread pudding.
Terhune was a foodie before the term "foodie" was ever
coined. She pursued a culinary career with enthusiasm, garnering both
an undergraduate degree in agriculture and restaurant/hotel management
from the University of Missouri (Columbia) and a culinary degree from
the New England Culinary Institute, and she’s never looked
bar snacks in Wisconsin were simple affairs. Popcorn, chips, beef
jerky. Maybe pizza or burgers if there was an actual kitchen.
anticipated DanDan, a restaurant owned and operated by Dan Jacobs and
Dan Van Rite, opened in late July, offering what Jacobs refers to as
an "updated approach" to Chinese cuisine.
and Carolina-bred Matt Kerley came to Milwaukee via San Francisco.
This talented, young chef had been making a name for himself, earning
rave reviews at Radius, but he moved to Milwaukee so his son could
grow up near relatives.
It was the
watermelon juice that did it. Maanaan and JoAnne Sabir’s son, Taj,
was born with a genetic condition, ectodermal dysplasia, and for the
first five years of his life, he was in and out of hospitals and on
and off antibiotics.
the 'scon in scones
decadent, dessert-like scone? This one’s for you, with chocolate
chunks and silky caramel served rustic style. Colectivo, various
are meat eaters. We top our bloody mary cocktails with mini
cheeseburgers, we add bacon to our grilled cheese sandwiches, and we
take our sausages (bratwursts or otherwise) very seriously. Many area
restaurants recognize and embrace our carnivore-like tendencies,
paying little attention to their menus’ vegetarian options.
For as long
as Kady Gibowski can remember, she wanted to be a chef. "Instead
of watching cartoons, I was watching cooking shows on Channel
10," quips the Newburg native.
pretty basic dish — just cheese, cream and pasta — but that old
childhood staple takes on new
when in the hands of talented chefs.
Spotlight: Darin Yenter - Juniper 61
executive chef of Juniper 61 in Wauwatosa, Darin Yenter began working
at Juniper four years ago as a line cook. Within the first year, he
moved through all the stations and became sous chef, and then, two
years ago, he took over the kitchen as executive chef.
Korean dish, bibimbop is traditionally served in a bowl of warm white
rice, topped with various vegetables, chili pepper paste and soy
sauce, and finished with a raw egg and sliced meat.
Klemm cooked with local ingredients before the locavore movement was
in vogue. He opened Café Industri in Walker’s Point before Second
Street became "restaurant row," and he was the opening chef
for the Ale Asylum Riverhouse in downtown Milwaukee.
breads and spreads
spirit of our wellness issue, this month’s dish — Engine Company
No. 3’s patacon con huevo — is not only vegetarian, but also
inherently gluten-free and can be easily adjusted to be made fully
the condiment, please
area’s leading burger joints are skipping the ketchup and mustard,
instead accenting their patties with more unusual spreads and sauces
twists on dining
last February, Wolf Peach’s large format dining is the brainchild of
owner Gina Gruenewald. Gruenewald tasked executive chef Cole Ersel
with developing four large format options, and each dish is served
family-style, accommodating six to eight diners.
making eating healthy a short-lived New Year’s resolution, head to
Brookfield-based Cafe Manna, where owner Robin Kasch proves that
nutrient-dense, plant-based foods can be just as satisfying (and
tasty) as their processed, trans fat-filled counterparts
Sweed is only 38, but this self-taught chef has spent more then 20
years professionally cooking, starting when he was 15.
sparkly, twinkly time of the year, and there’s no reason why your
cocktail shouldn’t sparkle, too. Sparkle, as in sparkling wine and
Bartolotta hired Chicago native Adam Siegel to work at Lake Park
Bistro in 2000, Siegel saw Milwaukee as a temporary stay. "My
wife is from New York," says Siegel. "I thought we would be
here a year or two, blow in and blow out."
the Historic Third Ward, Bavette’s rotating list of meat and
charcuturie options is largely derived from whole carcasses, a
sustainable-friendly process that reduces waste.
comes to tonic, Nicholas Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz of Bittercube know
all about this value-added drink delight. Kosevich and Koplowitz
founded Bittercube in 2009 after developing, formulating and tweaking
a lineup that currently consists of eight varieties of bitters.
so average Nachos
and I consider ourselves nacho connoisseurs. We’ve scoured the city
in search of the tastiest take on the Mexican mainstay, and if there’s
a nacho dish on the menu, it’s likely we’ve tried it.
Menck had considered law school, but she ultimately followed her heart
to become a professional chef. A chef with both an MBA and a Ph.D.,
winds begin to howl and the temperatures begin to drop, nothing warms
a person quite like a healing, soothing bowl of soup.
certain sense of simplicity found in authentic Italian food. The
ingredients, often locally sourced, combine in a way that presents a
flavor profile bursting with richness and depth.
established Walker’s Point gem, Crazy Water is teeny tiny, but the
entire space exudes warmth and coziness.
on the hog
bacon’s upscale cousin. Pork belly, which comes from the same part
of the hog as bacon, is a tasty delicacy that has local chefs and
foodies swooning. As its name suggests, it does indeed come from the
belly of the pig and is typically served with the skin on, which when
cooked gives it a nice sear.
Louis Trayer opened his Zum Deuschen Little Tavern at State and Water
streets in 1837, Milwaukeeans have taken their beer drinking
seriously. As early as 1843, pioneer historian James Buck recorded 138
taverns in the city — an average of one per 40 residents.
introduction of Vietnamese-style cuisine into the American culinary
scene is a relatively recent occurrence — one prompted by the
Vietnam War, when refugees immigrated to the United States in search
of a better life. Its popularity has since grown, and restaurants
serving traditional Vietnamese dishes like pho (a rich noodle soup)
are now present in nearly every major U.S. city.
Daily first came to the United States to attend Lakeland College in
Sheboygan, she had plans to become a criminal profiler or
psychologist. Instead, she ended up majoring in marketing, then earned
her MBA from Alverno College, and she worked in international business
for several years.
Founded in 1999, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company, anodynecoffee.com,
now boasts three locations — the original roastery in Walker’s
Point, a Bay View cafe and a stand-alone shop in the Milwaukee Public
days, it seems as if the inspiration behind every dish can be
attributed to one very specific moment. At Le R ve Patisserie and
Café in Wauwatosa, it was the wild mushroom and rice stuffing served
at a family meal (a restaurant industry term for the pre-shift meal
cooked and enjoyed by the staff) that led to the creation of the
French bistro cafe’s fall pheasant entree.
Spotlight - Nell Benton
chefs make the national news when they take over a restaurant, but
that’s exactly what happened to Nell Benton when she bought The
National at the end of 2011. The reason? The former owner, Michael
Diedrick, sold Benton the entire restaurant for $100.
weather heats up, forget the hot meal and opt for the salad. Not all
bowls of green are created equal. A good salad starts with fresh
lettuce (not iceburg, unless it’s a wedge), then boasts a good
portion of veggies, sometimes fruits, and often a cheese and/or a nut.
One of the
city’s founding neighborhoods, Walker’s Point, has evolved from
its roots as an industrial area, filled with machine shops and
warehouse spaces, to a neighborhood brimming with top notch
restaurants and artisan food producers.
Pellettieri always thought she’d someday open a craft brewery.
Having worked for both Goose Island in Chicago and Miller-Coors in
Milwaukee, Pellettieri enjoyed home brewing as a hobby for 20 years.
Carolina. Kansas City. Head to a barbecue-centric destination and then
talk to the locals, and they’ll direct you to their personal
favorite, along with recommendations on what and how to order it —
because every barbecue region has a certain style — wet rub or dry
rub, pork or brisket, mustard or vinegar.
breezes through town, we head outdoors, as much and as often as
possible, and we carry that sentiment with us when we dine out. It’s
patio season, and most bars and restaurants in town boast some form of
outdoor seating, whether it’s a few tables crowded on a sidewalk or
plush couches arranged around fire pits.
uncommon for certain dishes, especially those with ties to family
gatherings or special occasions, to hold sentimental value, and for me
personally, the smoked salmon appetizer from c. 1880 does just that.
quintessential tube steak, Milwaukeeans have plenty of choices when it
comes to finding an award-winning Dogg Haus. There’s a pack of
strategically located sites, all offering top Vienna Beef
few things I love more than summertime in Milwaukee. The city’s
energy is infectious — we act as if we’ll never see another warm
weather day, and the list of events and to-dos is endless.
than three decades, Mike Engel has cooked in some of metro Milwaukee’s
swankiest kitchens. He’s done everything from opening Hotel Metro,
to catering with Bartolotta’s, to cooking for guests on Harry
Quadracci’s private train.
Kitchen," "Top Chef," "Chopped" — you can
get a glimpse into restaurant kitchens with the click of a remote. But
if you want to get off the couch and into a professional kitchen,
Sanford Restaurant will put you there.
The dish on
Artisan 179 and you immediately feel as if you’ve been transported
to the middle of an urban bistro with its plush seats, sophisticated
bar and high design, including locally designed artwork on the walls,
tables and along the staircase.
spoonful of pleasure
weather tends to put ice cream and gelato on our radar. This spring,
step away from your usual choice and let your taste buds experience
something a little more exotic. Here are five great places that serve
up something cold with a spoon, but with a twist.
chefs around town, and ask them where they go to dine. Crazy Water and
the A.P. Kitchen often top their list. Chef and restaurateur Peggy
Magister, originally from Wauwatosa, studied at the California
Culinary Academy before returning home to Wisconsin.
eggs. Who hasn’t enjoyed them at reunions, community picnics and of
course, as the culinary solution to leftovers from Easter egg hunting?
The dish on
Jesse Daily, who together ran the Thiensville Farmers Market, had not
initially planned on opening a restaurant. But when a condemned
Victorian-style bulding, dating back to the 1890s, became available,
the couple restored it and opened The Cheel.
Anaba Tea Room closed last year and Tochi Ramen opened in its place,
Chef Gregg DesRosier knew that it might take a while for regular
customers to accept the change. But accept it, they did — and in
droves — as Tochi has served 50,000 bowls of ramen in its first
year. DesRosier sat down with M Magazine to discuss the changes, his
travels to Asia and his love of Japanese mayo.
shaking a perfect martini, infusing bourbon with bacon or figuring out
how to put a new spin on the classic old-fashioned, savvy bartenders
not only know their way around a bar, but many times, they also know
their way around a kitchen.
dish on dining
Side coffee house and wine bar, which is kitty-corner from Sanford
Restaurant, serves up delicious breakfast burritos and homemade
Burke’s most popular
bloody mary, the Lazy Susan, sits on exactly what its name suggests
— a Lazy Susan.
passion for the plate
and owners of this month’s featured new restaurants all have turned
their singular enthusiasm for exceptional food into four equally
exceptional yet quite diverse dining experiences.
street it looks like just another brick building in Milwaukee’s
Fifth Ward. There’s no sign, marquee or anything else outside to let
you know that this is the site of one of Milwaukee’s newest and most
Hill, the latest story is, well, Story Hill BKC, with the B standing
for Bottle (wine), the K standing for Kitchen (food) and the C
standing for Cup (coffee). Dan Sidner and his partner Joe Muench, who
own Blue’s Egg and Maxie’s Southern Comfort, purchased a building
at 5100 W. Bluemound Road that used to be a uniform store.
Blind Horse Restaurant and Winery
granite bar gleams against the stonewalls and burnished woodwork in a
space that was once a run-down barn. Barrels and bottles of cabernet
sauvignon, zinfandel and chardonnay are paired with cheeses,
chocolates and small plates.
Aprahamian had big shoes to fill when he purchased Sanford from
legendary chef Sandy D’Amato in 2012, but the Waukesha County
Technical School graduate has filled them well.
and related meat lovers do well around greater Milwaukee, where
staking out steak houses is an ongoing hunt. The following are among
the area’s best — all places where the meat cuts are thick and
juicy, the vegetable sides are fresh, the bread is warm and quality
beverages are abundant.
professional chef worth his apron can invent a tasty vegetarian
recipe. But what happens if you limit the amount of ingredients and
then make the chef use locally sourced products?
craze: What's in, What's out
that foods come and go, although the lines between what’s in and
what’s out are always blurry. "Food trends are like any other
trend — they typically become the norm as restaurants try to keep
up with each other.
was one word to sum up this year’s dining trends, it would be fun.
Fun with beer. Fun with ice cream. Fun with ramen. Milwaukee continues
to be a casual city, and if you dress in jeans, you won’t feel out
of place at Ardent, Salotto Zarletti or Goodkind. Feeling comfortable
is a mainstay of Milwaukee restaurants.
Oysters. Chocolate. Foods that show up in gourmet dishes are now
finding their way into bottles. Bottles of beer, that is. "I
think as brewers are looking to differentiate themselves, they’re
turning to the kitchen for inspiration," says beer chef Lucy
Saunders, author of the new book "Dinner in the Beer
lobsterfest at Cuisine. My lobster tail arrived perfectly poached with
drawn butter, potatoes Anna and crisp, green spears of asparagus. My
server was attentive, refreshing my iced tea before I could ask, and
in between bites and conversation, I watched my chefs prepare the food
on a giant television screen showing the kitchen.
breakfasts and (freshly) brewed coffee — three of my favorite B’s.
Add a local focus, and you’ll have this month’s three featured
restaurants serve up some pretty spectacular burgers. Most of these
tasty patties feature cheese, a good bun and maybe some onions or
mushrooms. But some places go crazy with wild flavors and exotic
ingredients. Here are some of the most unusually delicious burgers.
dining beyond Downtown
is home to some pretty amazing restaurants, but so are its suburbs,
and great new restaurants are opening on a regular basis. But while I’m
always intrigued by new places, there are some restaurants that
continue to delight. Here are some favorites:
the three R's: Research, Read and Request
back-to-school hoopla reminds me of the other three R’s. Sure,
reading, writing and arithmetic are important life skills, but having
mastered those lessons, you’re ready to learn the other three R’s
— research, read and request — to order wine at a restaurant.
home cooking, real gastropub drinks and fare, and coffee with pizza
all headline the new places that have opened these past few months.
If you are
seeking a cocktail with character, you might want to turn to
barrel-aged cocktails. "The barrels import all kinds of flavors
like caramel and nut," says Kimberly Floyd, owner of Boone and
Places within the city limits
enjoy the thrill of discovering a new restaurant, but there are a
multitude of established restaurants in the city that are worth
keeping on the short list.
bartenders are blending food and booze into recipes that are as
complex and delicious as some of the most delicately crafted dishes
coming out of the restaurant kitchen.
dish on dining
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
Milwaukee restaurant scene may have come into its own over the past
few years, but plenty of foodies will agree some of the best local
cuisine can only be found on the city’s summer festival circuit.
grandson of Vincent "Jimmy" DeMarinis, the son of Josephine
DeMarinis and nephew of Rosemary DeMarinis — the original cooks at
Mama DeMarinis — Vincent DeMarinis grew up around great Italian
food. His family lived upstairs from the legendary Bay View pizzaria,
and at 12 years old he started in the family business washing dishes.
time for summer, a new bistro, beer gastropub, creperie and bakery
join the ever-expanding South Side dining scene.
and those who suffer gluten intolerance, dining out used to mean a
plain chicken breast or burger — no bun or bread — and maybe some
of a crowded restaurant — the low rumble of chatter, staccato chimes
of flatware and glass, and the muffled fanfare of shouting in the
kitchen — overtakes us as we pass through the door.
Carlisle’s Ardent restaurant opened last fall and is already
receiving critical acclaim. Ardent is one of 30 new restaurants in the
country to be named a semifinalist for a prestigious James Beard
Award, which will be announced in early May.
always harbored a bias for the underdog. I prefer Milwaukee to New
York City. I frequent quaint neighborhood joints over expensive flashy
flavors, Locally sourced ingredients
often hear the word "hip" preceding the words "German
restaurant," but that’s exactly what the newly opened Cafe
Bavaria is. The newest addition to the Lowlands Group is adjacent to
the group’s Wauwatosa outpost of Cafe Hollander.
pretzel is riding a new wave of popularity, a boon to Milwaukee’s
Miller Baking Co., where pretzel products have been produced since
Hall, Stilt House and Troop Cafe
Brewery’s Palm Garden isn’t just for Friday nights anymore. The
new brew-tastic restaurant, Lakefront Beer Hall, is open weekdays
during brewery tours, with counter service and full service on Friday
nights for its famed fish fry.
hash browns. Apple turnover bread pudding French toast. Fried chicken
and waffles. Brunch. It’s not just for Sundays anymore.
not have the star power of the top chefs but mixologists are beginning
to make a name for themselves. Leading the charge is Adam Seger, a
mixologist before most of us had ever even heard the word and
certainly before it became cool.
Vocar, Wayward Kitchen, TOCHI
restaurateur Michael Vocar’s namesake restaurant is a dream nine
years in the making. He purchased the Riverwest building and remodeled
it slowly, opening Cafe Vocar late last year. "I come from a
cooking family," Vocar says.
Miller/Executive Chef, HOM
Miller began his culinary career by doing odd jobs for a mom-and-pop
restaurant in Naperville, Ill. This Culinary Institute of America grad
enjoyed the restaurant business so much that he spent most of his
first paychecks visiting fine dining establishments to train his
On the second
Monday of the month, the Rhythm Aces generally get in the groove from
6 to 9 p.m. Plus, who knows who else might show up with an additional
sax. 924 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 271-4220.
Italian Fare among the Newest Offerings
The holiday glow
might be fading but don’t let the cold winter dampen your cheer.
Head out to some of Milwaukee’s newest restaurants and nightspots to
brighten your spirits: think beer-focused, Italian-centric, plus a new
In the spirit of
the season, artists from "The Nutcracker" and local executive chefs
share fond memories of the holidays and the foods they love.
Shorewood native Rachel Miller Munzer came of age working in
restaurants, starting with a job at Hubbard Park Lodge when she was
just 14, she says she never dreamed one day she would own one. "I
always knew I wanted to own a small business, but never thought it
would be a restaurant," she says.
coast to coast
People in other parts of the
country are discovering what Wisconsinites have known all along — a
friendly demeanor and the liberal use of cheese is an almost
guaranteed recipe for success. From New York City to the Pacific
Northwest, it seems there’s a Midwest food renaissance taking place.
Love food. Will travel. That’s sort
of been my motto, and I’ve traveled far and wide to indulge my
passion. Though I’ve enjoyed sipping sake with a Buddhist monk and
his family in Japan and delighted in tasting bilberry and cardamom
ice cream in Finland with the ice cream maker, some of the best
foodie trips I’ve discovered are much closer to home. Here are four
Wisconsin destinations you’ll want to visit and indulge.
wines for any budget
looking for a special wine for a big celebration or just a bottle of
red to go with take-out pizza, local wine pros have got you covered.
Here are their picks for their favorite high-end wines as well as
their go-to vino that’s priced right.
For one of the
most impressive breakfasts in town head to Blue’s Egg (317 N. 76th
St.) As the name suggests, the house specialty is omelette and
Benedict dishes. But you won’t go wrong with the other breakfast
items such as blueberry pancakes,
crepes and hand-cut hash browns.
year in dining
year in Milwaukee dining can be summed up in these terms: good wine,
hand-crafted cocktails and small plates in a casual atmosphere. With
the laid-back yet hip vibe of so many of the city’s new restaurants,
it’s not surprising most are clustered in the burgeoning food mecca
that is Walker’s Point. Here are 15 notable new establishments that
have opened since last fall.
kinds of new
If you’ve ever
enjoyed chef Kos Saeng’s signature sushi rolls at Screaming Tuna in
the Third Ward or Yokosa in Brookfield, you’ll want to check out his
latest restaurant venture, Slice ‘N Dice in Pewaukee. "We
decided to branch out west because we have family out here,"
Spotlight: Eli Murphy/Executive Chef - Honeypie
Murphy worked in restaurants through high school and college, but
after he got his degree he realized he’d still rather be in the
kitchen. Murphy worked in the local-food-focused kitchens of Nostrana
and Tastebud restaurants in Portland, Ore. before following girlfriend
Erika Ehley back to her hometown of Milwaukee.
Speak: Brian Zarletti
Brian Zarletti grew up in a
food-centric, Italian family in Kenosha. So naturally he studied
marketing at Northwestern University. He started working at Main
Street Bistro in Racine, and that experience drew him back to the
kitchen. In 2002, he opened a small Italian café in South Milwaukee,
and in 2004 Zarletti’s debuted in downtown Milwaukee.
you know that oysters are an excellent source of zinc, iron, calcium
and selenium, as well as vitamin A and vitamin B12? Besides, they
taste good. And you know what else they say about oysters … So when
the mood hits, make your way to one of several Milwaukee area raw
When it comes to barbecue,
greater Milwaukee has jumped on the saucy bandwagon with ribs,
brisket and sausage rubbed and ready to go. While the community
doesn’t — yet — have the smoky reputation of a Kansas City or the
Deep South, when you’re talking ’cue, Brew City is well on its way
to hog heaven. Tune in your tummies to these hot spots.
Speak: Thi Cao
Chef Thi Cao’s culinary background is about as diverse as it comes. "I
am a Vietnamese person who has grown up in America. I studied
classical French cuisine, and I worked (as executive chef) in an
Italian restaurant," says Cao.
Speak: Anette Righi DeFendi
As a young
girl growing up in Grafton, Anette Righi DeFendi sat in church
pretending to bake brownies. Her cookbook, of course, was the hymnal.
"That’s one of my earliest childhood memories," Righi
DeFendi says. "It was before I could read."
Jackson's, Millioke, Blaze and Lucky Joe's Tiki Room
Blue Ribbon Pub at the new Brewhouse Inn and Suites (www.brewhousesuites.com)
sounds like a corner tap that might serve up a fish fry and some
sandwiches. Although it is on the corner of the block, it’s not just
any neighborhood tavern.
Warm, goey, chewy … oozing with cheese, overflowing with toppings,
backed by a zippy red sauce and supported by a perfect crust. But deciding on
what makes a crust perfect, which pizza maker does it better and who
delivers it faster can be the subject of many passionate arguments, er,
discussions. Just about everyone I’ve encountered has a favorite
Speak: Grant Slauterbeck
Slauterbeck was named executive chef of the No. 1-rated hotel in
Wisconsin in April and in three weeks’ time he created the hotel’s
summer menu, living up to his "inventive" reputation with
such dishes as Foie Gras Popcorn Balls and a deconstructed tuna
sandwich with quail eggs.
couldn’t get the crisp, clean taste of hard, French cider out of his
mind after he and his wife, Yannique, visited France. In fact, it was
a series of French vacations that led these two Milwaukeeans to start
their Door County cider orchard and tasting room.
Park your bike
on Alterra Bay View Café & Bakery’s vertical rack, find a place
on the patio and grab an iced chai. At one of Bay View’s busiest
corners, there’s plenty of people-watching to do. 2301 S.
Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 744-6117, alterracoffee.com.
Cakes and Spirits
time, summer in the city, back of my neck getting burnt and gritty…
"Cool town, evening
in the city, looking so fine and looking so pretty." Lovin
Spoonful, I’m sure, wasn’t thinking about Milwaukee’s summer
dining and drinking options, but boy, are these new options pretty and
blends German classics with contemporary favorites
– Weissgerber’s Gasthaus has been a prominent part of
the Waukesha community for 30 years.
Waukesha restaurant honored for perfect cleanliness
WAUKESHA - A downtown restaurant that features
gluten-free food has attained the rare accomplishment of
capturing perfect cleanliness scores from the Waukesha
County Division of Environmental Health for two
me out to the ball game
crave Irish-pub fare or BBQ, or even Italian food from a storied
restaurant family, many restaurants offer free shuttle service to
Milwaukee Brewers home games at Miller Park. (Opening Day is April
1.) What’s in it for you? Not just a free ride, and your being freed
from the angst of finding a parking spot or springing for the
stadium’s parking fees.
In The Road
MUKWONAGO - Yogi Berra once said, “If you
come to a fork in the road, take it.” So when you come to the fork
at the intersection of Hwy 83 and County Road ES in Mukwonago, take
it to Fork in the Road restaurant located at 215 N. Rochester
Speak - Bryan Phillips
Phillips, a little of this and a little of that goes a long way. It’s
a culinary process that begins with simplicity and evolves with
imagination. He’s getting his chance to show his stuff as the new
head chef at the Hi Hat.
no better place to be than Milwaukee in summer, when beer, food, music
and fun are served up under the sun and stars at the city’s
signature beer gardens. It’s a German tradition with a few new
twists, so raise a mug and Prosit!
Bier, BelAir and The Bay
have blushed into full bloom, wet and snowy days have long since
melted into memories, and Milwaukeeans, emerged from hibernation, seek
all things sun. Patio season is finally here, and this year’s
arrival comes with exciting new outdoor dining and drinking options.
has a vision. Scion of the fabled Milwaukee restaurant family, Mader
is focused on building his Trad to Rad brand, which reflects his
cooking style of adding unique flair to traditional recipes.
cafe, Mexican fusion and a Milwaukee Carson's
to be new eateries almost everywhere you turn in greater Milwaukee,
from downtown’s hopping East Wisconsin Avenue to the outer reaches
of Waukesha County. Obviously, there is no boundary for good times and
good beverage. Here are a few of the newest places around town.
Wine bars, sushi and 'cue
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
Peschong - Executive Chef, Turner Hall
1990 to 2011, chef Tom Peschong was a familiar face at the Riversite
Restaurant, where his dishes consistently earned kudos. Among his
honors was being named a James Beard Best Midwestern Chef nominee.
has made a splash on the city’s culinary scene ever since it opened
in 2012. The Bay View restaurant, 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is
noted for an ever-changing menu that emphasizes fresh local produce,
meats and dairy products. Innovative dishes vary almost day-to-day
in small plates or standard entrées.
fare is Milwaukee’s latest hot "in-food," where Hispanic
influences can be found almost everywhere. When it comes to eateries
and menus, the new seamlessly blends with the old. Here’s a mix of
places to consider when a South of the Border fix is needed.
eats and a North Woods retreat
collection of casual-eats restaurants opened in late winter and early
spring, ensuring there wasn’t an awkward pause in the flurry of new
Speak: Scott Pampuch - The Iron Horse Hotel
Pampuch, top chef and beverage director at The Iron Horse Hotel and
founder of the award-winning Corner Table restaurant in the Twin
Cities, grew up in Winona, Minn., where his culinary training really
Dish: Nines at the River Club of Mequon
ordered the Crouching Tuna, Hidden Shrimp Roll, a toss of the dice
from a menu that suggested unexpected flavor combinations on every
line. The menu deconstructed the roll by listing tuna, avocado,
shrimp, soy glaze, wasabi cream and caviar, but I chose to let the
roll surprise me and let the flavors speak for themselves.
dish/What's new in city dining: Joey Gerard's
Rave reviews of
Joey Gerard’s preceded our visit to the latest addition to the
Bartolotta Restaurants roster. Joe Bartolotta’s two namesake
restaurants, one in Greendale and one in Mequon, harken back to a time
before we counted calories; a time when menus featured liver and
onions, meatloaf and beef stroganoff.
on board the bus for culinary adventures — and leave the driving to
Milwaukee Food Tours. Theresa Nemetz and husband Wade will ensure a
good time, grand fun and an exciting peek into the city’s history,
all rolled into one jolly excursion.
Dish/What's new in city dining: Wild Earth Cucina Italiana
Earth Cucina Italiana — the name suggests a sensory feast on Italy’s
coast looking down from an oversized window to a raging sea, or
perhaps a view of a rolling hillside in Tuscany.
Italian dining scene
Balistreri siblings, Tony, Theresa and Peter, running Sala da Pranzo
Italian restaurant is an extension of their family experience. Even
before their grandfather came to America as a young boy from St. Elia,
Silicy in the early 1900s the Balistreris have been a cooking family.
Sarah Mironczuk had a pet tarantula named "Pablo," calls herself
"Zombie Girl," was born a week before Halloween and her 2-year old
daughter, Bernadette, entered the world on a Friday the 13th. Is it
any wonder that Mironczuk was a recent winner on the Food Network’s
"Sweet Genius," a show where chefs concoct competitive desserts,
that was also taped on a Friday the 13th with a Halloween theme and
Sarah’s winning dish was a cake shaped like a tarantula?
year in dining
Returning to his native Wisconsin after cooking with Michel Richard at
Citronelle in Washington, D.C., was never a question — he always
intended on it. Thomas Hauck, chef owner of c. 1880, on a corner
along bustling 1st Street in Walker’s Point, uses his restaurant as
a culinary laboratory where he pickles, preserves and dehydrates.
Chefs at country
clubs have a tall order — to satisfy pickiest of palates. After all,
members at these exclusive clubs eat artisan ingredients in far-flung
nations and often host multicourse gourmet meals in their homes.