Homemade from egg, spinach, or whole wheat, The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar's namesake pasta earned the eatery the honor of best Italian restaurant and runner-up for best romantic restaurant on Express Milwaukee's Best of Milwaukee 2012 list. Now celebrating 30 years of dining excellence, chefs toss them with ingredients such as a gorgonzola Alfredo sauce, caramelized mushrooms, and Australian lobster tail. They incorporate more local ingredients into other homemade delicacies, such as fresh baked bread and tiramisu.
To help wash down each homemade bite, barkeeps pour reds and whites by the glass, whip up classic cocktails, and decant local beers. Feasts unfold in The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar's European-style bistro, split between an intimate dining room and a cozy wine bar. There, a fireplace thaws chilly customers in the winter, while a secret garden patio opens in summer to surround diners with aromatic flowers, tranquil fountains, and gnomes that lust after your food but never touch it. Customers also have the option to take the bistro fare to take to a festival or enjoy in a park or on a boat by ordering the gourmet picnic basket for two .
Dough leaps from chefs' hands and pirouettes in midair before donning Rustico Pizzeria's slew of fresh toppings such as pine nuts, goat cheese, and eggplant, with gluten-free pizza and pasta available upon request. The menu includes 10 types of sandwiches, some of which are made crispy atop a sizzling grill, and pastas arrive at tables draped in slow-stewed tomato sauce and white-wine b?chamel. A rustic dining room is decked with brick walls, hardwood floors, and sturdy chandeliers. Outside, a wooden patio affords pristine views of the Milwaukee River, and an ideal station from which to christen passing ships with bottles from the Italian wine list.
Before it became a large-scale pizza manufacturer, Palermo's Pizza was simply an Italian restaurant run by Gaspare Fallucca and his wife Zina. The Fallucca's are back to their restaurant roots offering freshly baked classic and wood-fired pizzas at Pizzeria 3301 at Villa Palermo. Along with pizzas, guests enjoy homemade soups, fresh salads, and Italian desserts within a cafe atmosphere. Patrons can even tour the pizza factory, attend a tasting event, or participate in a pizza making class.
Pizza purveyors will devour Edwardo's all-natural pies, made with 100% pure aged cheese, crisp crust, and a sweet n' secret tomato sauce. Those perusing the menu will swiftly find Edwardo's signature stuffed cheese and spinach pizza, a two-inch-tall tasty treat packed with enough hand-selected spinach to finally let Popeye defeat Emperor Palpatine ($17.25 for 9"). Edwardo's thin-crust pizzas are just as delectable, with the Hawaiian Luau pie hosting generous chunks of pineapple, savory Canadian bacon, monterey jack cheese, and sweet n' sour sauce ($12.25 for 10"). Gobble up the Chicken Pesto Passion calzone, brimming with tender grilled meat, mozzarella cheese, and homemade pesto ($7.29), or pick up two chunky meatballs, smothered in marinara sauce and roasted red peppers ($4.79), for a kicking kickoff or a supportive side dish to your meal.
In 1963, Sal Barbiere founded his eponymous Italian Inn on the principles of “Family, Superb Food, and Quality Ingredients,” according to the restaurant's website. So it was no surprise that he decided to keep the eatery in the family, passing Barbiere's to his son Steve when he retired. And when, 34 years later, Steve was ready to retire in his turn, he also passed the mantle to someone trustworthy: employee Mark Dempsey, who is himself nearly family—he has been working at the restaurant since he was 16 years old.
Today, Dempsey has expanded the restaurant to two locations, both still serving Sal's signature garlic bread and other tried-and-true Italian dishes. Chefs in his kitchens prepare pans of lasagna and spaghetti with meat or meatless sauce. Baked-to-order pizzas feature an array of topping choices including italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes. Grand Marnier from the full bar fortifies pitchers of housemade red sangria, which enhance the food's bold, Italian flavors as well as boring white napkins that definitely look better in tie-dye.
The “pleasingly puffy” crust and “inventive flavor combinations” the chef creates for Transfer Pizzeria Café's inventive pizzas earned the establishment a feature on Serious Eats. Today, they craft more than 40 different kinds of pizzas with different combinations of about 30 toppings, all laid atop house-crafted sauces: tomato, garlic, pesto, barbecue, and peanut. Made with local and organic ingredients when possible, the pizzas range from traditional to inventive, with combinations more compelling than that of Al Capone’s safe. The pollo verde features chicken with pesto and tomato sauce, feta, and asiago cheese, and the Diavola is topped with hot peppers and salami. Transfer Pizzeria Café's crew strives to give back to the community by featuring local art and live music, and it contributes its vegetable and fruit scraps, used coffee grounds, and discarded paper airplanes to an area compost network.