Chefs at Dick's Pizza and Pleasure work a coal-fired oven to forge a menu of pies that fills the futuristic lounge with enticing aromas. Burning at temperatures in excess of 700 degrees, the oven yields crisp, light crusts, which serve as ideal canvasses for guest-designed pizzas crowned with local produce and toppings such as roasted mushrooms, gorgonzola, and white anchovies ($9+). The house-cured-sausage pizza flaunts red onion, mozzarella, pecorino cheese, and organic tomatoes crushed by hand ($13). Shavings of black-truffle mushrooms embellish the top of the White and Black pizza ($15), along with house-made white sauce and fontina, mozzarella, parmesan, and burrata cheese. Dick's kitchen dispenses cold alcoholic or virgin milkshakes such as the Acapulco Gold, a blend of vanilla ice cream, Kahlua, Nutella, house-made caramel, and chocolate-covered espresso beans ($8), while the seasonal cocktail menu makes use of fresh fruits and top-shelf liquors to fuel revelry without saving up yard clippings to bribe a satyr.
Joey Buona’s Pizzeria & Restaurant's motto implores diners to laugh, love, and eat "with a vengeance," whether they're chowing down on a gourmet sandwich made with rustic italian bread, or sharing a multi-course family feast of pasta and steaks with loved ones. The restaurant also hosts "all you can eat" family-style appetizers, salads, pastas, entrees, and desserts on big platters. Chandeliers cast a warm glow over crimson carpets and brick walls while guests bite into slices of thin-crust style cooked pies, then debate which came first, the city or the pizza. The downtown restaurant's catering packages and banquets ring in weddings, anniversaries, and corporate events with hot and cold smorgasbords of sandwiches, sausage ravioli, chicken marsala, and tiramisu.
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 béchamel. 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.
Housed in the former Brown Bottle Guest Hall and Hospitality Center in the old Schlitz Brewery, Libiamo basks in the same old-fashioned elegance that made the venue a Milwaukee landmark. A gorgeous ceiling, elaborate woodwork, and chandeliers constructed from massive antlers set the classy yet casual ambience. Paintings of rustic Italy adorn the walls and the beautiful, familiar old bar welcomes patrons like a massive, wooden old friend. As befits the historic setting, you can get original-recipe Schlitz on tap, while ghosts of departed Schlitz cans occasionally roam the bathroom area. Libiamo also lives up to the building’s illustrious precedent with a menu of some of the best authentic Italian food in Milwaukee. Appetizers benefit from Libiamo’s delicious house red sauce. Try the tender spedini—Italian steak rolled with breadcrumbs and cheeses—or fried ravioli (both $7). For lunch, order up one of the delicious and crispy panini sandwiches, like the classic Italian beef ($7.95). Equally crispy are the thin-crust pizzas, including the sophisticated pesto chicken ($9 for small, $17.50 for large) or family-recipe linguine with meatballs ($8.50).
Homemade from egg, spinach, or whole wheat, The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar's namesake noodles 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 bleu cheese 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.
Crisp Pizza Bar & Lounge’s super-heated Neapolitan-style oven bakes crunchy cracker-like crusts topped with chef-curated ingredient bouquets or build-your-own-pizza creations. The restaurant also transforms into a morning-meal factory for Friday–Sunday brunches, flipping expectations on the heads with funky adaptations of morning classics, such as the breakfast pizza topped with scrambled eggs and a pepperoni-wrapped alarm clock. By night, the eatery doubles as a music venue, with a rotating schedule of DJs setting hips asway with high-octane playlists.