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Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

SoLo: Oakland Trattoria Gets a Makeover

Newly redesigned restaurant works well with Black Rose pub

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The Oakland Trattoria received a dramatic makeover last year, when owner R.C. Schmidt converted the southern half of the restaurant into an Irish pub named the Black Rose. With its three bars, the pub quickly became a hit. Recently, Schmidt continued the makeover with a complete renovation of the trattoria, including changing the name to SoLo Pizza.

SoLo refers to the location, south of Locust Street. It also shows up on the revamped menu, as the wood-fired pizzas now come in three sizes, the smallest of which is named the SoLo.

The local Flux Design worked on the restaurant’s new look. The wood-fired pizza ovens and the marble counter topped with granite still remain, but the front door and the area above the ovens showcase vibrant tile mosaics of flames, a theme that continues into the dining areas.

SoLo shares the kitchen with the Black Rose, so diners can choose from Irish pub and California-style pizza menus. Irish stew and calamari may be ordered at the same table.

The first page of SoLo’s menu consists of the pizzas, while the second offers appetizers, salads, sandwiches and pasta entrees. The basic pizza comes with tomato sauce and mozzarella. The three sizes are SoLo ($4.95), Mezzo ($7.95) and Doppio ($12.95). Additional toppings are priced from 50 cents to $1.50, depending on the size of the pizza. Choose from cheese like creamy goat, Gorgonzola and Gouda; meats like prosciutto, pepperoni and anchovies; 12 different veggies; and touches such as roasted garlic, EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) and barbecue sauce. Those who don’t want to create their own can pick from nine standard pizzas that will be familiar to those who dined at Oakland Trattoria. Among the standard pizzas are the classic margherita, barbecue chicken and an old friend, the portabella mushroom. The mushroom pizza ($7.95-$16.95) begins with EVOO and roasted garlic, adds roasted mushrooms and five white cheeses, and finishes with some chopped fresh basil. The crust is thin and light.

Visitors of Schmidt’s local Louise’s Trattoria will recognize the salad of goat cheese, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes ($12.95). This is California food, with organic baby lettuces and sherry vinaigrette. The cheese is creamy and the pine nuts contribute some crunch. All ingredients are of top quality.

When it comes to the Italian nachos ($9.95), tortilla chips form the base for ingredients like mozzarella, California black olives, fresh tomatoes and chopped pepperoncini. This is a mountain of food that should be shared; ultimately, there is too much cheese.

The six pasta entrees tend to be simple. The three-cheese ravioli, featuring mascarpone, Parmesan and ricotta ($11.95), is a serving of seven, each topped with a bit of fresh wilted spinach. Marinara sauce is served in the middle of the plate. The ravioli are quite good, though they were better in years past at the trattoria. The refreshingly simple papparadelle ($12.95) makes for a very nice pasta dish. The wide noodles are paired with chopped Roma tomatoes, bold and spicy Italian sausage, a bit of grated aged Parmesan and tomato cream sauce.

The wine list offers about 25 choices, which is adequate for this type of eatery. The pub features nearly 40 beers.

Servers are young and aim to please. The kitchen sometimes slows down at busy times, creating a backlog of pizza and pasta orders. But all in all, the makeover works. SoLo is a very pleasant place for a casual meal.

SoLo Pizza

2856 N. Oakland Ave.

(414) 964-2850

$$

Credit Cards: All Major

Handicap Accessible

solopizzamilwaukee.com

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