The Atmosphere: From the moment Balistreri’s came into view, there was a classic down-to-earth Italian-American feel. Located in a quaint village corner not far from downtown, it looks every bit the restaurant that opened in 1968. Everything from the artificial shrubbery to the suave sounds of Frank Sinatra felt like a trip to the past. Mirrors and old glassware framed the two yellow-dimmed dining rooms.
Unfortunately, Ol’ Blue Eyes wasn’t the only voice in the room. Across the room I could hear a young man loudly discussing his NBA 2K skills over the phone. Another woman was questioning a waitress; she was audibly upset about the canned mushrooms that topped her pizza.
The Meal: The concerning thought of my rickety old chair passed as I received the menu and a complimentary loaf of Sciortino’s Italian bread. My friend and I quickly decided on the antipasto salad to start. We paired that with a carafe of cabernet sauvignon, and ordered The Works: a pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, green pepper, onions and black olive pizza. It seems few are fans of anchovies these days; my companion refused my request to add the salty fish adamantly.
We tried not to scarf the always-delicious bread from one of Cream City’s best bakeries as we received our appetizer. It was one of the most unique antipasto salads I have ever had. In addition to an anchovy, it had slices of pasteurized American cheese. Can’t say I was too much of a fan. Our waiter forgot plates for our appetizer, and my fellow patron had to get up and track him down. The restaurant was pretty empty, so it was odd the service was lacking.
Finally, the pizza arrived and it engulfed the entire table. Flakey crust, rich sauce, and authentic Italian sausage highlighted a scrumptious meal. It was simple, but some of the best pizza I’ve had. I finished off the night with a personal favorite, Tiramisu. I try to get a piece of the Italian coffee cake wherever available. Moist, light and fluffy, it was the perfect cap to a delicious dinner.
My MKEats Final Verdict: Apart from a few blunders, Balistreri’s lives up to its namesake. Its unique and local charm makes it a must-visit for all pizza lovers.
Extras: Be sure to reserve some time for the area, there’s some interesting local shops and places to explore just a short walk away, including a confectionary (where I bought some girlfriend-approved chocolate), a floral shop, a bakery, and a Colectivo coffee.
For more information, check out their website here.
Balistreri’s Italian/American Ristorante
812 N. 68th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53213