The Real Dorsia Brings Modern Italy to Brady Street
You can be the envy of Patrick Bateman who could never get a reservation at the fictitious Dorsia, the restaurant from the movie American Psycho from which a new Milwaukee restaurant got its name. The owners of Cataldo’s recently opened Dorsia as a thoroughly modern Italian restaurant, a place with lots of energy, creativity and an effortless cool hipster vibe. Even though the space gives off a nightclub feel, it’s comfortable and welcoming for all to dine. The modern décor of sleek lines of black and gold with soft purple lighting accents, flat-screen TVs above the bar for sports fans and upbeat music all seem to fit with the pulse of Brady Street. The food is executed with finesse, and the thoughtful approach to old-school Italian recipes meshes well with the space’s modern twists and artwork.
1307 E. Brady St.
Handicap access: Yes
CC,FB,SB,RS, OD, GF
Tu-Th 4 p.m.-12 a.m., F 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Sa 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Su 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The menu’s antipasti section runs from hot and cold selections such as the popular meatball ($10) and the traditional arancini ($7) to scallop and hamachi crudo ($15). The one big meatball is made from Wisconsin beef mixed with Berkshire pork and veal, served in a pomodoro with some sliced baguette. The crudo is presented beautifully, and the combination of flavors combined with the heirloom peppers and cucumber results in a light and fresh dish that you’ll want to eat all summer long. The beautifully juxtaposed boards of artisan cheeses and meats—or a combination of both ($14-$26)—have lovely accouterments that enhance the selections.
Three flatbreads are on the menu: the famed Margherita ($11), a carnivore’s dream with four different meats ($13) and the one we delighted in—a two-year prosciutto ($15) with fig mostarda, asparagus, telaggio and ricotta drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The crust was cracker-thin with nice char and a delicate balance of salty, sweet and bitter.
There are several large salads, but don’t pass on the Dorsia Chop ($14). The hazelnut-crusted goat cheese is warm and crunchy; added to it are shaved fennel, apple gaufrettes and a combination of three greens, including watercress for that peppery bite paired with tangy Dijon vinaigrette. The crow jewel is the sous vide egg yolk, perfectly done to create a luxurious mouth feel.
The pastas are house made, and—the genius of Dorsia!— they offer a pasta flight. Can’t decide on one? You can try a combination of three or more—and so we did. The duck carbonara, rich with duck confit and spring peas guanciale, was my favorite, followed by a pappardelle Bolognese. The delicate, wide pasta is thin and cooked al dente and holds up to the combination of meat in the ragu. The third choice was sweet potato gnocchi with rapini—marinated artichokes in brown butter. The gnocchi is more of a cavetelli than a traditional gnocchi of light potato clouds, and the sweet potato flavor is lacking against all the other robust flavors, but made for a good combination of textures and flavors.
Don’t make up your mind before you peruse “the rest of it” menu category. It includes veal spiedini ($19), brodetto made with scallops, prawns and more in a pomodoro broth ($22), short ribs with polenta ($26) and a beautifully roasted half chicken with cipollini and lemon juice ($19).
It’s rare that all the desserts on a menu make one swoon, but this lineup is sure to please. The ricotta cheesecake is light and airy and served with berry compote and candied pine nuts ($7). The salted caramel budino was more cake crumbles then pudding and is served in a large ceramic coffee mug with a thick layer of salted caramel on the bottom, chocolate sponge cake and topped with whipped cream and an almond tuile. Other desserts include a Meyer lemon custard cake and affogato (“drowned” in Italian)—a coffee-based dessert that has a cannellini and vanilla bean gelato that is drowning in Valentine espresso. ($6-$8).