What's New in Milwaukee Dining and Drinking: February 2017
If you’re a beer lover, then February was your month. Three new breweries opened, along with the first VPN-certified pizzeria in Milwaukee.
The Explorium Brewpub
5300 S. 76th St.
Southridge Mall hasn’t exactly been a bastion of dining options, but a man from Florida who grew up at his family’s brewpubs hopes to change that. Mike Doble is all about exploring: new tastes, new beers, new experiences. The beers brewed on site all are named for famous explorers, like Livingstone’s Porter and Captain Kidd’s Lost IPA. Quotes from explorers or about exploring appear on the walls of the large space that’s kept cozy with a brick fireplace and warm wood furniture. Even the patio has a fireplace, though the weather needs to warm up a little before it gets any use. You can explore various parts of the globe through the menu as well: Belgian-style mussels ($16) are available in three flavors, Cantonese calamari ($14) is tossed in a sweet chili sauce, and a Wisconsin Rarebit soup ($5-$7) is a local take on the Welsh favorite. Burgers, pizzas, steaks and chops round out the rest of the menu.
San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana
838 N. Old World Third St.
The operator of the Downtown Calderone Club has opened a Neopolitan-style pizzeria next door in the former Thai Palace space. Gino Fazzari has obtained what’s called VPN certification for San Giorgio by the Naples-based Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. To get certified, pizzerias must adhere to strict standards in ingredients, methods and equipment in order to faithfully recreate Naples-style pizza. The wood-burning oven, imported from Italy, will cook pizzas in about a minute and a half at blistering temperature, resulting in the leopard spot-like char on the crust. Ten varieties of pizza ($10-$16) are offered, most of them traditional. Margherita has tomatoes from San Marzano, Italy, fresh mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The restaurant’s namesake pizza forgoes tomatoes for a splash of olive oil along with braised fennel, pancetta, mozzarella and an egg cracked in the middle. Appetizers, soup, panini, meatballs and rotisserie meats are also on the menu.
Eagle Park Brewing Company
2018 S. First St.
Eagle Park is owned by brothers Jackson and Max Borgardt and Jake Schinker. The brothers also front a band called Eagle Trace, which was formed in the New Berlin garage of the house they grew up in. Also formed in that garage: the brothers’ love of beer and brewing. Their space in the warehouse—on the second floor and reached by buzzing in—contains a small taproom and equally small amount of brewing equipment. That’s because they're currently contract-brewing most of their beers in an effort to stay within budget while delivering a superior product. Signature brews include Loop Station, a golden ale with hints of agave nectar, lime peel and sea salt, and Line Check, a light-bodied brown porter. Currently, the taproom is open Friday and Saturday, but you can find their beer at The Explorium Brewpub and at local beer festivals.
City Lights Brewing Company
2200 W. Mt. Vernon Ave.
You’ve probably seen the 1904 Milwaukee Gas Light Company building in the Menomonee Valley from I-94: The large turret-like tower is hard to miss. The Alexander Eschweiler-designed building used to supply coal gas to light Milwaukee’s streetlamps, but now it supplies some of the city’s beer. City Lights Brewing has renovated the huge space, creating a brewing room, large taproom and an outdoor beer garden. The industrial vibe remains the same, with exposed beams, ductwork and brick walls. Reclaimed wood and leather furnishing warm the space up, inviting you to stay a while and try a flight. An amber ale, brown ale, IPA and session IPA are all on tap, and will soon be canned as well. Tours of the 115-year-old building and brand new brewing equipment are available. Food trucks are often parked outside, so check City Lights’ social media pages for details.
This Month in Closures
Allium has shuttered on the East Side, and Philly Way has announced it will not reopen after raised rents forced them out and a crowdfunding campaign came up short.