Chow down on hearty sandwiches while sipping fruit smoothies at The Hub, a cozy spot offering a bevy of huggable, Chicago-inspired comfort eats amid an inviting atmosphere. Patrons can choose from a host of menu items that satisfy both discerning and cast-iron palates. Allow taste buds free reign across the asiago roast beef panini, a melty marriage of roast beef, asiago cheese, ground mustard, optional red onions, and toasty italian bread ($6.49). All-beef Chicago-style hot dogs bench-press neon relish, diced onion, yellow mustard, and sport peppers atop a poppy seed bun ($3.39 each). The Hub features plentiful vegetarian options, such as the veggie dog ($3.19), three-cheese panini with mozzarella, provolone, and fontina on tart sourdough bread ($5.95), and harmoniously crunchy salads ($5.95–$7.95). Smoothies ($3.75 regular, $5.50 large) sweet-talk blushing tongues with a variety of flavors, including the breezy Brazilian Orchard (with açaí, peach, pear, and apricot), strawberry pineapple, and bubblegum. Bubble teas ($3.75) and milkshakes ($3–$3.50) pack a flavorful punch that’s more rejuvenating than outrunning a territorial badger during a morning jog.
Downtown Pizza’s chefs crown their signature pies with inventive toppings such as hawaiian jerk sauce and sliced corned beef before pairing them with wings, pastas, or gooey desserts. Tufted leather booths squeak as diners vie for the final slices of German pizza loaded with sauerkraut, bratwurst, and potatoes or steamy pot-pie pizzas that pile tender bits of chicken atop rosemary-crumble crust. Vegetarian pizzas arrive slathered in creamy pesto sauce or topped with marinated mock duck, and six varieties of sauce souse the breaded and baked chicken wings. Hanging lights emit a soft glow that accents the retro pizzeria’s red and turquoise walls on which vintage plates and kitschy salt and pepper shakers perch in shadowboxes and await puppet-show requests.
Pino Piroso dedicated himself to founding a distinctive, Roman-style pizzeria, saying that "after years of hard work, we knew we had built something very special." His lauded chain eventually grew to include franchises in six states and two countries outside of the United States. Despite their geographic separation, each location has the same stringent standards for their ingredients and their Exit-sign locations. No kitchen stores pizza fixings in a freezer—instead, the cooks begin every morning by stirring sauces, kneading dough, and dicing fresh seasonal toppings from local farms. The circular or rectangular pies can support as many as 33 of these familiar and nontraditional toppings, such as goat cheese, sweet corn, and roasted chicken.
Milwaukee Ale House echoes with notes of live music and the laughter of pub goers, but the building is also the site of serious work. Beyond a pair of glass doors, the pub's stainless steel fermentation tanks bubble with Milwaukee Brewing Company's creations. When they're ready, these beers make the short leap from brew room to bar tap, forming a beverage selection that Esquire described as, "plentiful and tasty, complementing the top-notch food."
The menu sports a convenient pairing chart that helps diners match prime rib, pulled-pork sandwiches, and spicy beef-and-chorizo burgers to house brews. Ideal with chicken, Louie's Demise exudes the smooth maltiness of a typical amber ale but with a balanced kick of Perle and Tettnanger hops, A meat-and-potatoes porter, the Admiral Stache ages for one month in bourbon barrels, lending a toasty vanilla flavor to subtle notes of milk chocolate and dried fruit.
Situated in the heart of the Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee Ale House's century-old building provides the main dining room and patio areas with waterside views of the Milwaukee River. The pub's decor exudes its own historic charm with exposed brick, a scattering of empty wooden barrels, and vintage beer signs. When live bands aren't performing, focus turns back to the bar area, where the taps form an ornate centerpiece built to resemble a copper-topped wooden vat. Around the vat hang white mugs belonging to members of the Mug Club and office workers who "got lost" during their coffee break.
The Good Life Catering imparts inquisitive culinarians of all ages and skill levels with relevant cooking fundamentals. Students arrange their own lesson by referencing the sample menu, which boasts dishes such as pecan-crusted scallops on corn cakes, wild-mushroom-stuffed tenderloin, and smooth chocolate-espresso-mousse layer cake. Though any menu items can be prepared, students are responsible for ingredient costs ($20–$75 extra). With each pivot of the knife, participants embrace the pressure-free learning environment, perfect for asking questions regarding the proper way to trim fat or what to do if a Boy Scout sells you counterfeit teaspoons.
Epicurean partners Angelo Vasta and Michael W. Major use their heart-and-stomach-spanning passion for cuisine to bring Milwaukee–area diners a stunning slice of The Boot. The dinner menu accounts for all tastes with fresh, authentic dishes such as the manicotti al cinghiale with braised wild boar in chianti wine sauce ($18) or the salmone alla griglia, a garlic- and tomato-tinged meal that pays tribute to its notoriously hard-drinking fish with a drizzle of chardonnay sauce ($22). Pizzas are available for those who only eat circles ($7.50–$9), and an extensive, elegant wine selection offers vinos that, unlike trendy store-bought versions, are not served in a box, fish bowl, or Ziploc bag with a Twizzler straw.