Portabella Bakery & Cafe's red-brick oven dispenses flame-kissed pizzas while chefs stack meats on sandwiches and wrap sugary dough around traditional Italian pastries. With more than a decade of experience in the Italian restaurant business, the Matera family prances down the kitchen’s aisles, piling gourmet toppings such as feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts onto personal pizzas and focaccia paninis.
Sourdough bowls brim with an ever-shifting selection of house-made soups, and the bakery’s glass displays showcase muffins, cannolis, and bagels affectionately modeled after Italian moped wheels. Cups of Seattle's Best Coffee, bottles of domestic and imported beers, and glasses of white and red wines rest on wooden tabletops, and waiters reenact the burning of Rome by pausing to play the fiddle beside a roaring fireplace.
Casa Di Giorgio's elegant dining halls have more than enough space to accommodate the abundance of diners seeking the kitchen's renowned gnocchi and pasta dishes. Glimmering chandeliers shower visitors in soft light, and vibrant Italian oil paintings hang on walls that are red and ornate, like the Arizona Cardinals' antique-furniture room. In the kitchen, chefs labor over veal, steak, and seafood, whipping up authentic northern and southern Italian dishes that have been lauded by reporters from Express Milwaukee. Servers deliver plates to the dining room along with bottles of fine wines, which they expertly coax open by whistling a few bars of Italian opera.
Since 1981, the ovens of Michaelangelo's Pizza have produced piping-hot pizzas piled with a variety of toppings. Sausage, pepperoni, olives, and pineapple arrive on delectable thin crusts. Meanwhile, pasta sauces coat lasagna, spaghetti, and ravioli. Steak sandwiches, hamburgers, and meatball sandwiches pair well with beers such as Peroni, Heineken, and Miller.
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 .
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.