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.
A fourth generation restaurateur, Ferrante’s owner Amy Ferrante-Gollwitzer mines her rich ancestry to feed the North Shore irresistible Italian cuisine made from enduring family recipes. Pie guys go for specialty pizzas such as the olive oil and garlic-coated tomato basil ($22.15 for a large) or the Amy’s, a meaty mix of sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and ham (22.15 for a large).
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.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
At Ed Debevic's, every house burger, hot dog, and diner entree shares a not-so-secret ingredient: sass. The servers welcome guests to the vintage venue with tongue-in-cheek remarks and paper deli hats, seating them next to vibrant examples of what Centerstage calls "smart-aleck decor": fake autographs, old-timey ads, and signs that carry proverbs such as "Eat Now…Pay Waiter." The mischievously retro tone is cultivated in homage to one of the owner's favorite restaurants, Lill's Homesick Diner. Back in the '50s and '60s, Lill acquainted Ed with the classic flavors of comfort food cooked from scratch, showcasing the spirited moxie that made her a standout in the short-order world.
Ed chose to emulate both her classic cooking and feistiness at his own diner. Many of his menu items are housemade, including the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, the desserts, and the blue-cheese sauce on top of the Ed's Blue Moon burger. Milk shakes and malts pair well with a variety of hot dogs and sandwiches, especially when counterbalancing the effects of Atomic Mix: a blend of diced jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes that garnishes certain plates. The staff stays in comically impudent character throughout these meals. And every now and then, the servers pause to put on countertop dance numbers that are almost as exciting as the time your grandpa turned the lazy Susan into a zoetrope.
In 1978, brothers Eugene and John Jetts lent their name to the sign above their pizza shop in Sterling Heights, Michigan. In the more than 30 years that followed, they’ve lost one of the Ts but gained more than 200 franchises across the country. Jet’s Pizza churns out thin-crust rounds and signature square-shaped pies in hearty deep-dish form. The eight-corner deep-dish style lets each member of a dining octet enjoy a slice of corner crust without fearing the paper cuts inherent in triangle slices. After loading pizzas with heaps of meats and veggies, guests have the liberty of flavorizing their crust for free, choosing from eight options such as garlic, sesame seed, Cajun, or poppy seed. To augment pies, Jet's chefs whip up triple-cheese turbo sticks filled with mozzarella, cheddar, and romano as well as regular and boneless wings draped in hot or sweet sauces.
Owned by philly cheesesteak connoisseurs Ken and Betty Kemler, The Keystone Grill cultivates a family-friendly dining atmosphere that features a sundry menu of comforting, cooked-to-order cuisine. Let an appetizer such as Cajun fries ($2.99) or stuffed mushroom caps ($5.79) serve as a prelude to a potpourri of entrees, including the cheesesteak-inspired Keystone Special pizza, topped with green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and steak on a homemade crust ($11.39–$20.79), or the breaded crab cakes, whose grumpy disposition hides a delightfully delicious interior ($10.29). For an authentic taste of the owners' roots, wrap a sandwich trap around the South Philly cheesesteak—a symphony of fresh-shaved beef, that replaces the traditional American cheese with Cheese Whiz––an even more traditional American cheese ($8.29).