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2016 Pizza Guide

Aug. 30, 2016
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Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. and Wood Fired Pizza

2920 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.




Anodyne is well known in Milwaukee for its high-quality coffee, and it should be no surprise that when they added pizza to the menu it met the same high standard. Their Bay View location features a wood-burning oven with southern Italian-style pizza with Italian-inspired menu options, as well as numerous vegetarian choices. The café also offers wine for pairing and boasts the perfect ambiance to enjoy a relaxed dinner with friends. (Eric Engelbart)



812 N. 68th St.




Older folks who dine at Balistreri’s on 68th and Wells may find themselves reminiscing about pizzas from days long past when eating here. The cozy, old-fashioned dining room doesn’t seem to have changed much since it opened in 1968, and neither has the pizza—which is a good thing when you are talking about a Balistreri’s pizza! Thin-crust pizzas topped with simple, traditional toppings like cheese, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, onions and the special Balistreri’s pizza sauce are what they do best here. (Susan Harpt Grimes)


Balistreri’s Bluemound Inn

6501 W. Bluemound Road




With its dark wood and dim lights, Balistreri’s Bluemound Inn is a great old-school Italian American restaurant with a lively bar and a full menu of pasta and antipasti. Pizza is only one reason for dining there, but it’s a good one. Balistreri’s serves eight “regular” pizzas (including the Balistreri Special with sausage, cheese, mushrooms, olives and onions) plus nine gourmet pizzas featuring extraordinary flavor combinations. The Milwaukee Pizza comes with cheddar cheese, bratwurst, Polish sausage and sauerkraut. The gourmet crust is excellent and $28 buys a large—a pizza big enough to feed a half dozen hungry souls. (David Luhrssen)


Carini’s Conca D’Oro

3468 N. Oakland Ave.




The door of the wood-fired oven, sitting astride a woodpile, is open to a roaring fire. Diners sitting nearby can watch as the chef inserts their pizza pie into the hot oven on a long-handled implement. The intense heat does the trick quickly. The 12-inch pizzas are Neapolitan style. The crust is slightly crisp at the edges but soft as pastry inside, neither thin nor thick, and the charring on top from the intense fire adds a touch of smoky flavor to the toppings. Varieties include marinara, Margherita and Parmesan and come with or without tomato sauce. The latter option will surprise anyone who ties the color red to pizza in a word-association test, but the proof is in the pie: With good ingredients and preparation, the sauce is unnecessary for a moist, flavorful pizza. (David Luhrssen)


Champion Chicken

8178 W. Lisbon Ave.




Despite the name, Champion Chicken has been a mainstay for pizza on Milwaukee’s Northwest Side for decades. The Chicken has a dozen varieties of pizza on its menu, all of them with distinctive, paper-thin crust. Try the barbecue chicken, which combines the tang of barbecue sauce with the sharp flavors of red onion and smoked gouda. The restaurant’s barn wood dining room has survived long enough to feel like ’70s retro, but it’s also fun to have the pizza delivered to your door in one of Champion Chicken’s distinctive, rooster-topped vans. (Morton Shlabotnik)


Classic Slice

2797 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.




Founded in 2007, Classic Slice offers salad, appetizers and pizza (by the slice and in pie form) that is a cut above the competition. Kind to those with special dietary needs, Classic Slice offers a delicious house-made, gluten-free crust sans upcharge as well as tasty GF appetizers like cheesy mashed potatoes. Salads are full of hearty, top-end ingredients like kale, arugula, hummus and pistachios—miles from the incidental role greens play at most pizzerias. Vegans and vegetarians are treated to tofu toppings and vegan sausage. Truly an establishment with heart, Classic Slice proudly serves local vendors’ products (Simple Soyman, Yuppie Hill Eggs and Growing Power being just a few examples) and sponsors local events and schools such as Bay View’s Chill on the Hill and Escuela Verde. (Selena Milewski)


Cranky Al’s

6901 W. North Ave.




Cranky Al’s prides itself on being a neighborhood hub and bringing the people of the Wauwatosa community together. In the morning, their famous donuts provide a pleasant ritual for regulars who pick them up before work, while at night their pizzas present a great shared experience for families and friends to bond around the dinner table. Cranky Al’s pizza features hand-tossed crust, a fine-tuned family recipe sauce and copious fresh toppings. They also offer a gluten-free option. (Eric Engelbart)


Dom & Phil DeMarinis

1211 E. Conway St.




It’s one of Bay View’s longest-running bar-restaurants and has been a pizza destination for generations. Eschewing trends, Dom & Phil DeMarinis sticks to Italian American tradition. Pizzas come in three sizes and can be topped with cheese, sausage, pepperoni, anchovies, onions, mushrooms, black olives and green peppers. For vegetarians, they offer an Italian Garden Pizza with broccoli and artichoke hearts; confirmed carnivores will opt instead for the Steak Compobasa with tenderloin and red peppers. DiMarinis’ pizza is unique for its paper-thin crust. Appetizers come in generous servings. Also on the menu are a half dozen pasta dishes, a handful of sandwiches and a full bar (Peroni served here). The windows provide an expansive Bay View perspective on the Downtown skyline. (David Luhrssen)


Fixture Pizza Pub

623 S. Second St.




One of many new businesses sprouting in Walker’s Point, Fixture Pizza Pub is a rehabbed Cream City brick space formerly occupied by The Boom Room. The Pub serves a full menu of bar food but with a focus on thin and deep-dish pizza. They favor familiarity leavened by unique twists served on crispy-chewy crust. Example: Mexico meets Italy on the Walker’s Pint—basically a taco reconfigured in pizza form. Open Tuesday through Sunday at 11 a.m., Fixture Pizza Pub serves good, strong coffee if you arrive hungry but too early in the day for a drink. (Morton Shlabotnik)


Ian’s Pizza
2035 E. North Ave. & 146 E. Juneau Ave.

Ian’s great contribution to college cuisine was popularizing mac ’n’ cheese pizza, a slice that’s worth each and every one of its considerable calories. Many of Ian’s specialty pizzas are even more daring, including the smoked brisket (with mozzarella, house-made barbecue sauce and tater tots) and chipotle sweet potato (topped with pickled onions, Portobello and feta). It’s not just the novelty that draws people in, though. All those imaginative ingredients sit atop a textbook-perfect crust: crispy on the bottom but tender and toothsome around the edges. (Evan Rytlewski)

Lisa’s Pizzeria

2961 N. Oakland Ave.




Lisa’s Pizzeria has been an East Side staple since they opened in 1962. Sharing a two-block strip of Oakland Avenue with both the newly opened late-night New York-style pizza shop Sal’s and the ever-convenient, equally late-night fast food favorite Domino’s is no easy feat, but Lisa’s more than holds its own by specializing in high-quality, no-nonsense pies and a cozy atmosphere that is equally suited for a Sunday family dinner or a casual date night. (Rob Hullum)


Little DeMarinis

2860 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.




Inheriting recipes going back decades, descendants of the branch of the DeMarinis family that ran a corner bar-pizzeria (as opposed to the Dom & Phil’s side of the clan) have been operating since 2014 on the lower level of an unassuming American Legion Post. The garlic bread is excellent but the main attraction is 1950s-style pizza. Yes, the crust is thin, yet it still can support an amazing amount of toppings. Whatever variation of ingredients you choose, definitely include sausage. Well-seasoned and generously applied, this sausage will make your taste buds happy. Additional toppings are available if you are more of a build-your-own-pizza type. (Susan Harpt Grimes)


Mama Mia Italian Cuisine

8533 W. Greenfield Ave.




The go-to local chain for pizza back in the ’70s, Mama Mia continues in a location just blocks from the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds. Mama Mia features delectable thin-crust pizzas. Their tomato sauce is a bit on the sweeter side; it gels nicely with the slim, bready crust and plentiful, salty cheese. Their E.B.A. pizza (Everything But Anchovies) is stacked to the ceiling with toppings and is superlative. Their lunch buffet ($9.95), offered Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes five different types of pizza, meat lasagna with what seems like infinite cheese and a killer hearty, well-seasoned minestrone soup. (Franklin K.R. Cline)


Maria’s Pizzeria

5025 W. Forest Home Ave.




Visit Maria’s Pizza, its three generations of family owners and its loyal clientele for a glimpse into 1950s dedication and charm. Established more than half a century ago, Maria’s is decked out in festive Christmas lights, paint-by-number religious pictures and Tiffany-style lamps. You’ll smell the delicious sesame seed garlic bread from a block away, and the tasty breaded appetizers will have your mouth watering in seconds. Italian classics such as spaghetti and lasagna are available and the enormous signature thin-crust pizzas are made to satisfy any appetite. Prices are very reasonable, but remember to bring cash as cards are not taken. (Selena Milewski)


Marty’s Pizza

16630 W. Bluemound Road


2580 Sun Valley Drive




If you are looking to feed pizza to a crowd, look no further than Marty’s Pizza. The large, rectangular, thin crust pizzas seem to go on for miles (they go up to 14 by 60 inches!). Classic pizza toppings are excellent here, but if you are in the mood for something a little different, Marty’s has some options. Familiar Hawaiian or barbecue chicken pizzas are quite good, but go out on a limb and try the bacon and scrambled egg pizza topped with both Canadian and regular bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese. (Susan Harpt Grimes)



17700 W. Capitol Drive




If you are a fan of crisp thin-crust wood-fired pizza, you will love Mozzaluna nestled away in Brookfield’s quaint Stonewood Village. Theirs is among the best Neapolitan pizza in the area. Everything is super fresh, so even the simple Margherita pizza—topped only with sauce, mozzarella, oregano and basil—is outstanding. All of the toppings are on a more gourmet level, so if pizza chains have been more your style, you may be in for some palate-changing surprises! (Susan Harpt Grimes)


Papa Luigi’s

3475 E. Layton Ave.




A large, bustling place occupying a full corner on Cudahy’s main street, Papa Luigi’s contemporary setting is aurally accented by the melodrama of Italian pop music. Known for thin, crispy crust, Papa’s pizza comes in 8-, 12-, 14- and 16-inch sizes and covers the full flavor spectrum with a few surprises. On one extreme, you can order a veggie pizza with cheese, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives; on the other, try a “meat lover’s pizza” topped with pepperoni, sausage, ground beef and Canadian bacon. The chicken Alfredo, chicken Parmigiana, Sicilian and Margherita form a Team Italy of tasty options; the Sicilian combines fine Italian cheese with spicy Italian sausage and a pleasant hint of olive oil. (David Luhrssen)


Pizza Man

2597 N. Downer Ave.




Pizza Man’s Downer Avenue location puts them in the direct company of fellow trendy Milwaukee-based chains such as BelAir Cantina and Café Hollander. The pizza menu boasts 16 specialty pies, ranging from the fairly conventional Pizza Man Special to the vegetarian-friendly pesto pizza, as well as a build-your-own menu if none of the specialties fits your palate. Pizza Man also has an extensive wine menu to wash down whichever pie you choose. (Rob Hullum)


Pizzeria Piccola

7606 W. State St.




Extra thin, crispy crusts and personal-sized pizzas are the specialty of Pizzeria Piccola. As a Bartolotta-owned restaurant, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find delicious gourmet ingredients topping some very creative pizza options. For example, try the chicken sausage pizza topped with perfectly seasoned ground chicken sausage, provolone, Gorgonzola, shaved celery and toasted pine nuts. So good! Enjoy in the rustic self-service second-floor dining room or charming patio, in season. (Susan Harpt Grimes)


Riverfront Pizzeria

509 E. Erie St.




Pizza and a view. Most people would call that a perfect combination, and the Third Ward’s Riverfront Pizzeria delivers this experience like no other pizza shop in town. While it is perfectly acceptable to dine in specifically for the lakefront view, the real star of the show is, of course, the delicious, cheesy, doughy pizza, which comes in all types and varieties, including Thai chicken, BLT, taco and cheeseburger, among many more. (Rob Hullum)


Riverwest Pizza
932 E. Wright St.

Everything about this cozy, relatively new addition to Riverwest’s pizza scene is tasteful, and the ingredients must be some of the freshest in the city—it all tastes like it just came from the farmers market. Each pizza is named after a neighborhood street. The clear standout here is the Fratney, a savory pie topped with duck, goat cheese and arugula, though the elegant Bremen, with its constellation of kale, mushrooms, tomato and mozzarella, is a wonderful lighter alternative. Either way, start your meal off with an appetizer of fried Brussels sprouts. (Evan Rytlewski)


The Roman Candle Pizza

133 E. Silver Spring Drive




Madison-based Roman Candle Pizzeria sprang up in Whitefish Bay near Bayshore Town Center on Silver Spring Drive in 2013. In just those three short years they’ve become a favorite of both Whitefish Bay residents and Milwaukeeans looking for a change of pace from the Bayshore food court by pairing excellent thin-crust pizza, such as the adventurous Hot-Wa-ii or a simple pepperoni, with craft beers from favorites such as MobCraft, Sprecher and Ale Asylum. (Rob Hullum)


Sal’s Pizza

2974 N. Oakland Ave., 414-967-8040



Sal’s Pizza is famous for its hand-tossed, foldable, flavorful New York-style pizza. The menu doesn’t end there though—Sal’s also offers classic Italian staples like ravioli, chicken Parmesan, calzones and meatball Parmesan sandwiches. If you’re at Sal’s, make a note to try their handmade garlic knots, which, for the initiated, are incentive enough to choose Sal’s over the other pizza places in town. Gluten-free crust is available. (Eric Engelbart)


Transfer Pizzeria Café

101 W. Mitchell St.




A rehabbed jewel of a building with tile floors, multiple levels and much sunlight through big windows, Transfer features hand-tossed pizza in three dozen varieties from ordinary cheese and sausage to extraordinary creations such as Thai chicken with peanut sauce and the DaVinci with pesto, feta and Asiago. If that’s not enough, Transfer offers 44 additional toppings, including pan-fried potatoes, smoked Gouda and vegan cheese. Transfer supports local artists; the walls are hung with local photography and paintings and jazz combos hold forth on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. (David Luhrssen)


Upper Crust Pizza

249 E. Hampton Ave.




Some takeout rules are nonnegotiable, one being that on a lazy Saturday night or at the end of the hectic workday, everyone needs a good pizza place in their carryout roster. Upper Crust Pizza is one such place. Located on the East Side of Milwaukee near Whitefish Bay, Upper Crust Pizza offers every item one could expect from a pizza place, from pasta and hoagies to burgers and fried appetizers. And while Upper Crust Pizza serves up its share of buffalo wings and garlic bread, its draw remains its popular pizza. Offering hand-tossed or thin-crust, Upper Crust Pizza provides a variety of special pies including the Hawaiian, the Mediterranean, the Garden Harvest and the Upper Crust Special. Covered in a mild sauce and plenty of sausage, the Upper Crust Special is one of Upper Crust Pizza’s better pizzas to consider. (Emily Patti)


Vinchi’s Pizza
3158 S. Howell Ave.

It’s alright if you’re a little confused. Vinchi’s Pizza shares a location with The Bubbler, a popular, refreshingly unpretentious Bay View neighborhood tap, but it’s a completely separate business from the bar. That setup may not inspire confidence, but Vinchi’s is the real deal. The crust is thin and dusted with cornmeal, the sauce is rich and zesty, and the toppings are generous. All bars should be so lucky to have a pizzeria this good crashing in their back room. (Evan Rytlewski)


Wells Brothers

2148 Mead St., Racine




When you talk about pizza with anyone from Racine, Wells Brothers, and its number six rank in Jeff and Penny Ruby’s 2005 book Everybody Loves Pizza, is guaranteed to come up in the discussion. The iconic, thin and crispy crust-serving staple has been open since 1921 on Racine’s South Side. The restaurant also serves Italian favorites such as lasagna, bruschetta and tortellini and has an all-you-can-eat fish fry every Friday. (Rob Hullum)


Zaffiro’s Pizza

1724 N. Farwell Ave.




A perennial Best of Milwaukee winner, the pizza’s wafer-thin crust has a delicate flavor—to me, a hint of licorice. The tomato sauce is light and spicy-sweet. Toppings are generous with just the right amount of cheese. The place has no pretentions. It’s a neighborhood bar with a jukebox, booths and some electronic games. The cozy adjacent dining room has red-and-white checked tablecloths, wood paneling and white walls with Italy’s red and green colors brightening the ceiling and trim. “Since 1954,” says the sign over the door. (John Schneider)


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