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Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010

Old Town Serbian Gourmet’s New Menu

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The family tradition at one of Milwaukee’s longest-running ethnic restaurants, Old Town Serbian Gourmet House (522 W. Lincoln Ave.), has entered a new era in time for the restaurant’s 40th anniversary this year. Natalia Radicevich, daughter of Old Town’s founder, Alex, set out to move the restaurant into the present without losing all that was good in the past. She has been hard at work in the kitchen with her mother (and longtime executive chef), Radmila.

The core of Old Town’s old menu remains. The delicious chicken paprikash and goulash, the baked burek and chevapchichi (grilled sausage), the sarma (stuffed cabbage) and the signature Serbian salad continue to anchor the roster of entrees and appetizers. But in recent months Old Town has introduced one of the city’s best Friday fish fries and rolled out a fascinating array of vegetarian specials, many of them culled from the traditional fast day cooking of Serbia’s Eastern Orthodox faith.

The new lunch menu includes a fresh array of salads and sandwiches. Among the former is the Montenegro ($8.50), a tasty variation on the familiar Greek salad; the basilica ($7.95), with basil, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts in a balsamic vinaigrette; and the rustic walnut ($8.95), with its delightful mélange of dried cherries, greens, tomatoes and nuts. Chief among the new lunchtime sandwiches is the Beograd burger ($9.95), a cheeseburger made of fresh ground beef, pork, lamb and veal served on toasted pita bread and topped with cucumbers, tomato and fragrant basil. It can be ordered spicy.

Dinnertime brings an extensive small-plate menu of Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean offerings ($5.95-$9.95) in addition to favorite entrees from the restaurant’s first 40 years. At Old Town, good things never change. Seasonal local produce is used whenever possible and the majority of dishes are homemade and hand cut, down to the sausages and french fries. (David Luhrssen)