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This Month in Milwaukee Restaurants

Jan. 24, 2017
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via Monster Pizza's Instagram profile

So far, the new year meant big changes in the Milwaukee dining scene, including many new restaurants, but also many closings as well. Here are the latest spots around town, from multiple pizza places to Hawaiian poké.

Santino’s Little Italy
352 E. Stewart St.
Price: $$

A new Italian spot focusing on pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy has opened in Bay View. The crust of the Neapolitan style pizzas is made with Caputo flour, an Italian brand of finely ground wheat favored by the best pizza restaurants in Naples. The Margherita pizza ($13), topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil, is a traditional favorite. Other options include Melanzana ($14) with grilled eggplant and oregano, Diavolo ($14) with salami, cayenne and red bell peppers, and an Italian beef and giardiniera-topped pie ($15). Antipasti, salads and a few pasta dishes are also available, including pasta with giant 10-ounce meatballs ($13).

FreshFin Poké
1806 E. North Ave.
Price: $$

Poké, a Hawaiian salad of fresh raw fish, is a growing food trend around the country. It has officially made its way to Milwaukee with the opening of the city’s first poké-centric restaurant, FreshFin Poké. Newbies to poké may want to order a signature bowl, like the Mango Tango ($8.95-$12.95) with salmon, mango, edamame, avocado, sweet shoyu sauce and crispy onion. If you already know what you like, you can also build your own poké bowl ($7.95+) by choosing a protein, base of rice or greens, sauces, and toppings. A vegan bowl ($7.95-11.95) and cilantro chicken ($7.95-$11.95) are also available for the fish-averse.

The Phoenix Cocktail Club
785 N. Jefferson St.
Price: $$

A modern cocktail club has opened in the 1858 William Webber House. True to its name, The Phoenix is first a foremost a bar and lounge, but also serves a small menu of globally inspired dishes that changes weekly. Dishes from their first menus have included goodies like mushroom bibimbap ($15), roasted fingerling potatoes with mint and cucumber salad ($8) and fresh doughnut holes filled with mint cream ($6). The playful seasonal cocktail menu is divided into sections like Kick Ass Potions, Colors!, and Fancy. Drink names are just as fanciful, like the One Armed Boxer ($13) made with pear brandy, sherry, brown sugar cordial and root beer tincture.

The Ruckus
4144 N. Oakland Ave.
Price: $-$$

The owners of Colectivo Coffee are branching out: They’ve opened The Ruckus, a burger, ice cream and churro spot in Shorewood. Burgers are quarter-pound and come with a variety of toppings, from the signature Ruckus burger ($9) with pork chorizo mixed right into the patty and topped with bacon, grilled pineapple and salsa, to the more tame Classic burger ($5.75) with cheddar, veggies, ketchup and mustard. Besides burgers, a couple hot dogs and sides round out the menu. For dessert, freshly fried churros ($3) and various ice cream creations, like shakes ($5) and “Saturdaes”($5)—their name for sundae—are a sweet ending to a meal. In warmer months, garage doors lining the building will open to patio seating.

Monster Pizza
2856 N. Oakland Ave.
Price: $-$$

Catering to the UW-Milwaukee crowd, Monster Pizza specializes in giant 28-inch whole pies ($24+) and pizza by the slice ($3-$4). Slices, which measure 12 inches from crust to tip, are available at a counter where customers can pick and choose from a variety of specialty styles. Between buffalo chicken, Greek with fried artichokes and black olives, Philly cheesesteak, and fried chicken and waffle with a maple cream cheese sauce, there’s something for every taste. Open late on weekends with delivery available.

Other Changes

Brookfield Square Mall (95 N. Moorland) recently welcomed two new eateries. Naf Naf Grill has moved into a building located outside the mall next to Blackfinn Ameripub. The national chain restaurant has a small menu of Middle Eastern foods in pita wraps or bowls. Chicken shawarma pitas ($7.20) are a favorite, as is fried falafel in a hummus bowl ($7.95). This is the second location in Wisconsin, and the first in the Milwaukee area.

Classy Girl Cupcakes has moved into a spot in the food court of the mall. The local bakery with one other location in Downtown Milwaukee will offer cupcakes, cakes and other treats to throngs of hungry shoppers. Cupcakes are available in flavors like banana chocolate chip, Butterfinger, caramel apple and key lime. Cupcake-sized cheesecakes and push pops filled with cake and frosting are also popular.

Unfortunately, a number of beloved Milwaukee restaurants have closed in the last month. They include: Mimma’s on Brady, Cempazuchi on Brady, Midwest Diner on Kinnickinnic, Trocadero on Water and Junior’s Frozen Custard on Appleton.


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