Metro Milwaukee Dining Guide
6501 W. Bluemound Road
It’s a hit on the West Side, seldom less than crowded during peak hours, and the formula for its success is simple: great pizza, an array of Italian and Sicilian specialties, plus steak and fish. Come in a suit, come in a baseball cap on your way to Miller Park, come as you are. (D.L.) $$$. CC: All major. FB, FF. 258-9881
7616 W. State St.
Attentive servers, an elegant atmosphere and rustic Italian cuisine are the hallmarks of this snug corner restaurant in the heart of downtown Wauwatosa. Sidewalk dining is an added attraction during the warm season. (D.L.) $$$-$$$$. CC: All major. FB, OD. Handicap access. 771-7910
Buca di Beppo
1233 N. Van Buren St.
Billing its food as “Immigrant Italian,” the Buca chain out of Minneapolis is best known for its mammoth-style family portions. Woe to the romantic couple: You are destined to bring home bags of leftovers. The wait for a table can be never-ending on weekends, so don’t forget they have an excellent curbside takeout service. Even if you feel like your stomach will burst, no dinner is complete without an order of their creamy, rum-soaked tiramisu. (B.R.M.) $$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. 224-8672
842 N. Old World Third St.
Calderone is a bright, inviting restaurant in the heart of Downtown. The menu includes modestly priced salads, Italian appetizers, pizza, pasta dishes, Italian desserts and sandwiches. (D.L.) $$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx, DS. OD, FB. 273-3236
Carini’s La Conca D’Oro
3468 N. Oakland Ave.
Sicilian seafood is the specialty of this fine menu, including mussels, calamari, langostinos and swordfish. The pasta is good, as is the lunch buffet. Landlubbers may choose from chicken, veal or steaks. (J.B.) $$$. CC: All major. OD, FB. Handicap access. 963-9623
9104 W. Oklahoma Ave.
This is the Sicilian-American menu of years ago with standards such as Sicilian steak and veal marsala. Caterina’s remains popular for its attention to detail. The pounded veal is tenderized perfectly and the tenderloin is of top quality. The menu also includes fine chicken dishes, pastas, scampi and daily seafood specials. Dinners include antipasto, soup and salad. Lunches are considerably cheaper and of the same quality. (J.B.) $$$. CC: All major. FF. 541-4200
Il Mito Trattoria e Enoteca
6913 W. North Ave.
Il Mito has branched out to Wauwatosa, and added a larger list of moderately priced wines. The cooking is disciplined, using homemade pastas and quality ingredients. The insalata tricolore is inspired—a piece of radiccio wrapped in pancetta and broiled before the arugula is added. The gnocchi Piedmontese is a gem, with the potato dumplings covered in a rich meat ragu. The new Il Mito is one of those rare combinations of top-quality food at near-budget prices. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. 443-1414
500 N. Water St.
Joey’s is the spot for groups of friends or large families. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and Italian beef rule the casual dining menu. Other entrees include chicken, seafood and a tasty London broil. Prices are as friendly as the service. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. RS, FB. Handicap access. 272-8662
801 N. Jefferson
Louise’s was probably the first restaurant of its kind in Milwaukee—the sort of place whose interior is so swank that you’d never guess it was part of a national chain. The lively atmosphere and exposed kitchen combine with a menu featuring specialty pizzas, pastas and wonderful focaccia. (D.L.) $$ CC: All major. RS, OD, FB. Handicap access. 273-4224
2500 N. Mayfair Road
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. has stamped its big brand on big portions of authentic Italian food. Think we’re kidding? In the tradition of family-style cooking, Maggiano’s doesn’t skimp when it comes to sausage, spaghetti or spiedini. The soothing green-and-cream interior is reminiscent of Italian storefronts of yesteryear. (J.D.) $$$. CC: All major. FB, OD, RS. Handicap access. 978-1000
1307 E. Brady St.
Mimma’s means pasta. Since opening in the ’80s, a time when tomato-based Southern Italian cuisine was the norm in Milwaukee, Mimma’s helped introduce creamy Northern Italian sauces to the city. All colors and shapes of pasta with cream sauces, wine sauces, herb sauces and more are meshed with delicacies from sea and land. An extensive selection of Italian wine is available. (D.L) CC: All major. RS, OD, FB. Handicap access. 271-7337
2778 N. Weil St.
Nessun Dorma’s relaxed atmosphere and affordable menu make it a Riverwest staple and a draw for the rest of the city. The Italian-influenced menu offers an assortment of grilled sandwiches and appetizers. Balsamic-tinged side salads are crested with meaty olives. Featuring a nice selection of wines, beers and bourbons (not to mention daily bar specials). (C.G.) $. CC: All major. FB. 264-8466
Osteria del Mondo
1028 E. Juneau Ave.
Casual elegance, an authentic Italian menu and views of Juneau Park make the Osteria special. Start with one of the antipasti and then choose from the pastas which rank with this city’s very best. Expensive but worth it. (J.B.) CC: All major. OD, FB. Handicap access. 291-3770
2315 N. Murray Ave.
After more than 30 years of serving pasta and pizza to East Siders, Palermo has renovated its space for a brighter, more open look. Try the pizza Florentine with three white cheeses and spinach after an appetizer of calamari. Pastas have flavor and character, especially the penne puttanesca. (J.B.) $$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FB, FF. 278-7460
223 N. Water St.
Rustico is a more casual venue than its sister restaurant, Zarletti. This menu focuses on pizza with a few salads, pastas, paninis and appetizers. Outdoor dining is directly on the RiverWalk. Pizzas rank with Milwaukee’s best; straightforward and only with Italian ingredients. Pastas are also worth a try. The prima vera is lovely with the flavor of grilled vegetable, while the pasta della nonna is as fine as at Zarletti’s. This menu is more affordable, making Rustico a fine Third Ward dining option. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. Handicap access. 220-9933
2995 S. Clement Ave.
Tenuta’s traditional Southern Italian food is well prepared, as if made in a kitchen that hasn’t changed in a century. The presentation, however, is very contemporary. Quality starts with freshness, which brings not only the best flavors from the familiar ingredients but the richest colors as well. Emphasis is on pasta dishes and pizza. An extensive wine list is available. (D.L.) $$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FB, OD. Handicap access. 431-1014
Third Ward Cafe
225 E. St. Paul Ave.
If the walls weren’t Cream City brick, this cafe could be in Rome. The menu is not trendy, but offers carpaccio, pastas and fine seasonal specials. Extensive list of Italian wines. (J.B.) $$$. CC: MC, VS, Diner’s, AmEx. RS, OD, FB. Handicap access. 224-0895
741 N. Milwaukee St.
Zarletti is an Italian place serving great Italian grilled sandwiches (panini), salads and a few pastas for lunch. At dinner the sandwiches are replaced with more pastas and some excellent meat courses such as pan-seared salmon and a dreamy, if pricey, veal osso buco. (J.B.) $$-$$$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FB. Handicap access. 225-0000