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.
Punctuated by festive colors, a plentiful bar, and ample outdoor seating, La Chimenea's two locations put diners in the mood to celebrate. Owner Hector Jimenez—who also has a website dedicated to healthy Mexican food—offers dishes that run the gamut of Mexican staples. Menu items include homemade guacamole and sirloin-steak fajitas, along with more innovative creations, such as the specialty chilies en Nogada, which fills two poblano peppers with ground beef, peaches, apples, and nuts before slathering it all in a creamy cashew sauce. At the bar, a variety of tequilas anoint lime, strawberry, or raspberry margaritas, and patio seating keeps the seasons at bay with a fire pit during the winter months and a restaurant-sized snow globe over the summer.
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).
The Allgauer’s menu offers a delicious twist on American comfort food. Courteous servers at the Milwaukee location cover tables in classic American fare such as an Angus NY strip steak layered in roasted portabella, blue-cheese gratin, Yukon mashed potatoes, and fresh spinach ($27) and potato-crusted salmon resting beside sautéed green beans and stone-ground mustard ($20). Press a jumbo button mushroom against your palate and savor its rich roasted-garlic, ham, and blue-cheese insides ($7 in Milwaukee), or crunch a jumbo crab cake with marinated peppers, arugula, bacon, and mustard ($12). A virgin shrimp cocktail ($10) spices up the evening without dampening driving abilities.
Amber Flanagan's grandparents moved to Milwaukee from Mississippi in the 1960s, bringing with them their culinary heritage and their firm belief in the importance of good eating. Today, Amber carries on their passion for gastronomical traditions by leading walking food tours of the Silver City District and the Historic Third Ward. Milwaukee’s history as a hub for immigrants from all over the world is reflected in the city's diverse ecosystem of restaurants: tours may bounce between Vietnamese, Peruvian, Thai, and Mexican cuisines on their journey. Some restaurant outings incorporate cooking demonstrations, which could otherwise only be glimpsed after donning an elaborate busboy disguise.