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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Savoy Room's Affordable Italian Fare

Live music, Art Deco style add to the dining experience

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In 1976, Joe and John Balistrieri opened Snug's at the landmark Shorecrest Hotel. In its early years, Snug's was the only Milwaukee restaurant to offer outdoor dining. It lasted for many years, before giving way to a series of restaurants that came and went. In 2002 veteran restaurateur Sally Papia reopened the place as the Savoy Room, but she passed away in 2005 and the restaurant only lasted another year. In 2010, Anthony D'Amico took over the location with the Savoy Room Piano Bar & Lounge.

The interior received a small makeover, mostly in the form of black table linens that complement the black marble in this Art Deco dining room. Recently, the menu expanded beyond appetizers, sandwiches and personal-sized pizzas to include pastas, veal and spiedini. In fact, the new menu is very similar to that of the original Snug's.

The menu still features casual fare. Pizzas with thin, delicious crusts—crisp like a cracker—come in three sizes. A really good Sicilian veal sandwich ($13.95) is hand-breaded and served with green peppers.

A suitable starter is the calamari fritti ($11.95), pieces of squid in a light batter served with lemon wedges and zesty marinara sauce. As for soups, chicken pastina ($3.50-$4.50) is a favorite from Sally Papia's days. Other options include chicken with noodles or matzo balls, and cabbage borscht.

Only the pasta entrees include a side salad. The simple salads offer lettuce with tomato, cucumber, carrot and red cabbage. My choice for dressing is the herbed vinaigrette.

For entrees, you can't go wrong with the veal, prepared four ways. The veal picatta ($18.95) features a dusting of flour and a sauce of white wine, lemon and capers. The veal is very tender. In addition, the menu offers chicken and beef spiedini. The beef ($18.95) consists of thin roll-ups stuffed with bread crumbs and served skewered with a bay leaf and a piece of onion—another old favorite from Snug's. These entrees include a side of pasta with tomato sauce.

Pasta entrees are an even better value, as they include a house salad. The cheese ravioli ($12.95) are plump and filled with a blend of three cheeses. Fettuccine Alfredo ($13.95) is prepared the right way, with a Parmesan cheese sauce that is light, almost ethereal—one of the best items on the menu.

Six pizzas are offered, in 9-, 12- and 14-inch sizes ($10.25-$18.75), but you can also create your own by selecting from 16 different toppings.

At $21.95, the priciest item is the Sicilian steak. Friday has a fish fry with a choice of Sicilian baked cod ($10.95) or battered cod ($9.95). Opt for the battered.

Live music on Friday and Saturday nights features a musician playing the black grand piano. The bar is a busy spot on weekends—a classic place to enjoy one of the martinis ($8) made with select vodkas.

The new Savoy Room offers Art Deco style and Italian fare at very affordable prices. That is a very winning combination.n



The Savoy Room

1962 N. Prospect Ave.

(414) 270-1070

$$-$$$

Credit Cards: All Major

savoypianobar.com