Every night the notes of renowned jazz, blues, and R&B performers echo through the glimmering walls of 88 Keys Piano Martini Lounge, where martinis and small plates meet beneath mood-setting blue lights in West Allis’s downtown stretch. The relaxed spot was conceived by co-owners Greg Barczak and Suzy Ball who, as West Allis Now reporter Mark Schaaf notes, “hope the city is turning a corner and want to make something more of the downtown” by attracting a younger crowd and lending the area an intimate, upscale nightlife option.
Inside the low-lit lounge, glass windows open and close to bathe guests and performers in a cooling breeze. Artwork and Wisconsin gangster memorabilia, including John Dillinger photographs and high-school report cards, beam down upon pots of fondue and gourmet pizzas. Behind the glowing bar, master mixologists blend a lengthy list of 28 specialty martinis and fill glasses with wine and beer.
Marchese’s Olive Pit provides pizza purveyors with a menu of pies with and without red sauce. Opt for sauceless sustenance with the caramelized onion and mushroom pizza, boasting olive oil and aromatic garlic reclining on an herb-brushed crust ($14.99 for regular size), or go in the red by bankrupting hunger with Pete’s Pepper Pizza, topped with spicy serrano peppers or mild green bell peppers, plus pepperoni and onions ($15.99 for regular). Customers can conceive the most artistic pie creation since da Vinci’s Mona Lisa Face-Planted Into Pizza with the create-your-own option, which lets you add as many toppings as your stomach pleases, including olives, extra seasoning, artichokes, bacon, and more ($12.99+). Marchese’s also offers a solid selection of appetizers, from its fresh bread available with toppings such as marinara sauce, pesto spread, or olive tapenade ($3–$5.50), to Aunt Susie’s Salad, with strawberries, butter-toasted pecans, and a raspberry-poppy-seed dressing bunking atop a bed of spinach ($5.99). Lunchtimers can nosh on pizzas by the slice ($4–$5)—Marchese's Olive Pit serves up a new special slice of pizza each week—or the massive Bear’s Big Sandwich available in veggie-friendly ($5.99) or pepperoni-topped ($6.99) variations.
Drinks flow to the beat of the night's soundtrack, an eclectic selection of dance music ranging from salsa to bass-heavy club hits. Salsa Saturdays are perfect for a tall margarita thirst quencher ($6), or refresh your panting palate with a minty mojito ($8). Any night of the week is suitable for fermented ales from the tap ($4) or by the bottle ($3.50 domestic, $4 imported). For a late night or if you’re performing a grueling dance scene from an episode of Veronica's Closet, a Red Bull ($4) or any bomb upgrade ($6) will provide anybody with a surge of body fuel.
Between's chef, Jose Victorio, captures the authentic flavors of his Peruvian homeland and infuses them with Asian influences to create unique house specialties. Embark on a culinary adventure as exciting as a piggyback ride from Julia Child with one of two predetermined menus. Grilled veal skewers serve as delectable forerunners for potato bites festooned in key lime, jalapeño, smoked salmon, and avocado confit, which preps palates for the next course of broiled tilapia (a $27 value/person). The second menu showcases quinoa-crusted chicken salad, spicy pasta with sautéed meat, and citrusy ceviche (a $23 value/person). Both options conclude with Grand Marnier french toast (a $7 value/person), a dessert so popular that it could date the quarterback of its high school's math team. Customers that redeem this Groupon before 10 p.m. will receive a complimentary cocktail (up to a $10 value), which they can nurse while admiring the chic, crimson décor, eclectic fixtures, and sultry mood lighting.