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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014

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In Dining

Onesto, "Honest Italian," will take the place of Bourbon & Tunns in the Third Ward.

Honest Italian: Onesto in the Third Ward


Some might say that donuts and Italian food have very little in common. And they might be right. But, for Joe and Angie Sorge, partners of Hospitality Democracy, the two will be nearly inseparable.

The bakery space at 316 N. Milwaukee St., which will soon house Holey Moley Coffee and Doughnuts, will also serve as the bakery for a brand new Italian restaurant called Onesto, which will specialize in traditional Italian dishes with a modern twist.

Onesto will take the place of Bourbon & Tunns, 221 N. Broadway, which closed in May. Flux Design has been hired to handle renovation for the space, which includes primarily cosmetic work.

Sorge notes that, with the recent departure of a number of Italian restaurants, there seemed to be an opening for a solid, affordably priced Italian restaurant.

"Most of what is left is done well," he says. "But it's a lot of higher end, special occasion dining choices."

Onesto, which means "honest" in Italian, will serve familiar rustic fare, including variations on comfort food favorites like Bolognese, carbonara and fresh, seasonal ravioli dishes.

Under the guidance of Chef Alex Sazama, the restaurant will also present numerous alternatives to traditional basil pesto, using ingredients like arugula or walnuts, and a variety of tapenades will appear on the menu, along with simple, rustic sandwiches.

Sorge says there will be an emphasis on fresh, flavorful cuisine, with plenty of fresh herbs. And the restaurant will feature a wide variety of playfully selected wines, including some on tap.

Pastas and breads will be made fresh at the bakery and delivered to the restaurant daily. And both gluten-free and vegetarian options will be available.

Italian coffee drinks, along with a coffee and dessert menu featuring pairings, will be provided with the assistance of Hawthorne Coffee Roasters.

"We'll work with his kitchen staff to pair coffees and espresso drinks with desserts or other items on his menu," explains Steve Hawthorne.

The second floor space above the restaurant will also be available for use with private events with up to 175 guests.

"This concept probably has the most history for our group," Sorge says. "My grandparents opened an Italian restaurant in New York in 1951, and it's where I worked from the age of 11."

Sorge not only worked at the restaurant, but he says he spent a great deal of time with his grandmother making the pasta that was served in the restaurant kitchen.

"As our restaurant group has grown, we've also had the fortune of traveling a good deal to research new concepts and we regularly found ourselves drawn to hand made Italian restaurants," he says. "So when you combine my experience with Italian growing up with the discoveries that we've made in some of the greatest food cities in the country and Chef Alex's continued growth and interests, you get a modern twist on classic Italian with our new restaurant, Onesto."

Onesto is expected to open before the end of July.


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