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Simply Mediterranean and Simply Fantastic

Tre Rivali brings wood-fired, well-crafted dining to the Third Ward

Aug. 23, 2016
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Tre Rivali is the restaurant adjacent to the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in the Third Ward. The Mediterranean-inspired menu features virtually all-from-scratch foods including pastas, pizza dough and cheeses. Also vital to the menu’s identity is the use of a wood-fired grill and oven, responsible for developing the charred textures and robust, rustic flavors for which the cuisine is known. Despite being open since only late June, it is quickly proving to be one of the best additions to Milwaukee’s growing culinary landscape. 

The menu starts off with cicheti and tapas—the former is Italian for small plates or snacks. Do not breeze past this section. It includes so many well-crafted dishes, one could easily create an entire meal without looking beyond the first third of the page. Among them: piquillo peppers ($11) stuffed with merguez sausage, pine nuts, golden raisins and Manchego cheese; polpette ($12) are meatballs blanketed in rich tomato sauce and house-made ricotta; and paella Arancini ($8), a three-bite spherical versions of the Spanish rice dish breaded, deep fried and served with a red pepper sauce. Further down the menu you’ll find a downright fantastic olive oil braised charred octopus ($14), served simply with a pesto-like salsa verde, frisée and preserved lemon.

Many of Tre Rivali’s preparations manifest as a master class on the axiom “Great ingredients don’t need a lot of company.” 

With some dishes it seemed that I could count all the ingredients used to prepare them on one hand. The simplicity was both refreshing and satisfying as it highlighted quality and freshness. Scallop crudo ($13) is one of those preparations: large raw scallops, studded with pink grapefruit segments, Calabrian chiles, mint, olive oil and micro greens.

Other notables are the shaved celery and escarole salad ($9) with lemon and marcona almonds topped with white anchovies; and the arugula and mint salad ($9) prepared with hearts of palm, French green beans and topped with pickled red onion and grated goat cheese.

Do yourself a favor: Order the grilled tomato bread ($9), buried blissfully in thinly sliced Serrano ham. Again, very few ingredients while delivering the kind of freshness and flavors for which you find yourself chewing the food with your eyes closed and saying, “Oh, that’s what food is supposed to taste like! OK, I get it now.”

The food is, without question the hero of Tre Rivali, but the decòr deserves special mention as it also leaves a lasting impression—or should I say, makes a positive first impression. Oversized Spanish tile flooring provides a colorful mosaic that complements the friendly welcome received upon entry. Tables and chairs in a variety of materials, colors, sizes and textures are all strategically placed to provide balance and energy, not chaos. The floor-to-ceiling windows of the street-level restaurant allow abundant light to bounce off the walls and woodwork—some of which are treated in white and some left in their natural grain. It’s an undoubtedly stylish and vibrant yet comfortable and welcoming environment, all of which gets highlighted when enhanced by the reason you’re there in the first place—the food. Tre Rivali recently added a lunch menu, served Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Tre Rivali 

200 N. Broadway




Handicapped access: Yes



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