Rosati’s Pizza's history dates back to the early 1900s, when a recent Italian immigrant named Ferdinand Rosati moved from New York to Chicago with the dream of opening a restaurant. His first attempt was modest—with Ferdinand simultaneously fulfilling the duties of chef, server, dishwasher, and host—but quickly gained popularity for its crispy-thin-crust pizzas, originally served as complimentary appetizers. Encouraged by the public's response to the pies, Ferdinand and his son, Sam, decided to focus their efforts on opening a true pizzeria.
Today, at Rosati's Pizza locations across the country, plumes of heat swirl above piping-hot pies concocted from handmade sauce and dough. A smattering of toppings cling to five crust options—crispy thin, double dough, Chicago-style, pan, and superstuffed—as well as hide from their hungry predators inside hand-rolled calzones. Homemade lasagna and fettuccine alfredo battle for the top pasta spot, and fried chicken, baby back ribs, and fried-shrimp dinners work together to distract diners from hard-to-resist buffalo wings.
Villaggio's authentic Italian cuisine and New York–style pizza fill out the menus with Tuscan flair. Unfold the lunch menu to furnish an empty stomach with endless homemade soup, Italian house salad, and warm homemade breadsticks ($6.50), or multitask with a BlackBerry in one hand and a sausage-and-mushroom calzone in the other ($6.99). Authentic Italian dinners at Villaggio harness the renewable energy of the tides with mussels di Napoli, simmered with white wine, garlic, butter, and onions ($7.99). Savory house specialties, include breaded eggplant parmesan dressed in marinara, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella ($10.99) and charcoal-grilled, balsamic-marinated pork chops served alongside garlic mashed potatoes ($12.99).
Tazinos Pizza & Salad Bistro provides patrons with a buffet-style smorgasbord of specialty pizzas, pastas, and salads. Already cooking at three locations, a fourth eatery in downtown Milwaukee is slated to open its doors this summer. Each casual restaurant revolves around an all-you-can-eat menu of fresh, nutritious Italian fare, including pizzas crafted from natural Wisconsin cheeses and dough that is kneaded onsite every morning using unbleached flour and absolutely no high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, MSG, or magic beans. Pies range from classic pepperoni and authentic Italian margherita to the specialty Tailgater, topped with Klement's bratwurst, green peppers, brown mustard, and barbecue sauce. Salads, such as a sweet Asian-style slaw, and pastas, ranging from mac 'n' cheese to garlic-and-herb fettuccini, keep forks gainfully employed, and each meal is rounded out by a selection of soups, desserts, and spicy pepperoni rolls.
On Saturday and Sunday, Sunriza pizzas fend off the morning munchies with renditions of breakfast favorites in pie form. Topping choices include eggs and bacon, eggs ranchero, and morning-fresh veggies, and each slice may be enjoyed alongside other breakfast staples such as french toast, cereal, and mini cinnamon rolls.
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.
At Mendini’s Restaurant on Main, piled-high platters transport steaming plates of pasta primavera, pan-seared salmon, crusty focaccia toast, and frosty drinks from the full bar to patrons' tables. Chefs dress the pan-seared salmon in honey-chipotle breading pajamas before tucking it into a bed of wild rice under a blanket of béarnaise sauce with a bite-size teddy bear for garnish ($15.95). Forks can tango with tender vegetables and twirl graceful linguine noodles on a plate of pasta primavera drenched in white-wine sauce ($10.95), and the crisp romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons, and creamy dressing of the signature caesar salad ($9.95) stirs feelings of jealousy in the unadorned vines climbing the restaurant walls. Patrons can pull up a barstool along the fully stocked bar to sip from Mendini’s wide selection of wines or to show off their good posture by balancing a stack of martini glasses on their heads.