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Lisa’s Pizzeria Serves its Pies ‘Wisconsin Style’

Tasty pizza in a quiet, casual atmosphere on busy Oakland Avenue

Sep. 27, 2016
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Stepping into the cozy dining room at Lisa’s Pizzeria (2961 N. Oakland Ave.) is a mildly transformative experience. Lisa’s is one of the oldest businesses in the neighborhood. Its low-key and tranquil atmosphere is a welcome departure from some of Oakland Avenue’s other eateries, whose mostly student clientele can range from boisterous (in the evening) to downright obnoxious (late night). Situated in a former residence with a picture window overlooking the street, Lisa’s dining room features a décor that has aged from dated to charming. The lack of music is a bit off putting at first, but leaves open chances for a quiet conversation, making it an ideal spot for a date night (or to eavesdrop). An internet jukebox on the wall is the only overt concession to modernity in the place, but during my recent visit it remained silent, which was a surprisingly satisfying soundtrack.

Lisa’s offers a full menu of reasonably priced Italian favorites, including spaghetti ($8.50-$10), ravioli ($9-$10.50) and mostaccioli ($8.50-$10). Their generously proportioned specialties include chicken cacciatore ($16) and spedini ($18.50), a breaded and stuffed eye-of-round roast served with French fries and a side of pasta. Lisa’s also offers a small menu of traditional American dishes, including burgers and sandwiches, fried chicken, ribs and a Friday fish fry.

The star attraction, of course, is the pizza. The menu is straightforward, with a few base options available in 12-, 14- and 16-inch pies ($12-$23.50) and a long list of extras—including such unique options as shrimp and tuna—which can be added for a few dollars each. The appetizers are pretty typical deep-fried bar options (Italian and Cesar salads are also available). The jalapeño poppers were pretty standard, but the cream cheese filling was a nice touch and the heavy breading gave them a satisfying crunch.

The pizza is served with the familiar “Wisconsin-style” cracker-thin crust, which makes it tempting to finish an entire half-pie in a sitting. While the crust is subtle, the sauce and toppings are not. The red sauce is liberally applied and rich in flavor while the pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives were plentiful enough to make up for the somewhat small amount of cheese. Their default seems to be to serve the pie cut into squares, although requesting a by-the-slice cut helps with making the leftovers stay crispy longer.

From a small bar, Lisa’s also offers a small, but well-selected list of beers and wines. The service was prompt and friendly and left nothing to be desired. For a tasty pie and a quiet evening out on the East Side, Lisa’s Pizzeria should be on everybody’s short list. 

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