Hard as it is to hold off on the pizzas at Tarantino, it might be worth it if it means a chance to try the appetizers. Diners can begin by splitting orders of mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, or eggplant strips. Then it's time to dig into one of the specialty pies, such as the Mexican pizza: mozzarella and cheddar cheese topped with ground beef, black olives, and onion. Pastas include lasagna, mostaccioli, and ravioli, the latter of which comes stuffed with meat, spinach, or cheese, and never a note that says, "IOU one ravioli stuffing."
"Eat pizza ... be happy!" might be Upper Crust Pizza's slogan, but it seems that eating the restaurant's hoagies, burgers, and cheesy garlic sticks will also put customers on the journey to happiness. Along with hand-tossed, gourmet pizzas (such as the 5 Meat, which saves families from bitter feuds on the pepperoni vs. sausage front), Upper Crust also serves cheesesteaks, subs, and sandwiches on bread from Peter Sciortino's Bakery. And sides such as onion rings, breaded mushrooms, and chicken wings can accompany meals.
The oven at Alphonso's the Original ejects pies of freshly kneaded dough slathered in scratch-made sauce and gooey Wisconsin cheese. Owners Tim and Corey inherited their century-old recipe as well as a treasure map to a chest of golden pepperoni passed down from the restaurant's namesake, Alphonso. Pies bear loads of juicy Chicago sausages alongside a medley of veggies, sandwiches hug hand-pressed italian sausage, and salads shimmy under a hail of homemade croutons.
At Loucci's NY Pizza, chefs bake the eatery's titular pie in the classic New York style, a thin, toothsome, bubbly crust loaded with savory sauce, cheese, and toppings. Guests sink their teeth into slices of pizza covered in feta cheese, veggies, or italian sausage, or dig in to hearty spaghetti dinners, baked lasagna, or Greek gyros.
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.