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In Dining

Little Italy's long, narrow dining room decked out in traditional Italian-American style, with red and white checkered tablecloths and nice low lighting. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining

All pizzas here are create-your-own and made on thin crust. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining

It's hard to miss the life-sized replica of Capone perched at a small table near the front window with painted bullet holes sprayed across the wall behind him. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

Find easy Italian dining at Capone's 3rd St. hideout


Capone's Grotto & Little Italy Olive Oil Company opened on Halloween '08 at 1003-1007 N. Old World 3rd St. The bar and restaurant combo replaced Jewel of India, which has since relocated 5114 S. 108th St. in Hales Corners and changed its name to Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant.

The reason for the double name has less to do with its product than the time period it's trying to conjure. Tavern fronts ran rampant in the 1920s and early '30s when the sale of alcohol was illegal and many saloonkeepers created alias businesses through which they'd serve booze on the sly.

Little Italy Olive Oil Company restaurant, then, is the alias for the adjacent bar, Capone's Grotto. Get it?

Even the staff members use fake monikers like "Zola" on their nametags.

Little Italy's long, narrow dining room appears in traditional Italian-American style, with red and white checkered tablecloths and nice low lighting. But then there is the litany of black and white framed photographs and mug shots of mobsters covering almost every square inch of wall space and, to top it all off, a life-sized replica of Al Capone himself perched at a small table near the front window with painted bullet holes sprayed across the wall behind him.

But even if the theme is a bit overstated, the atmosphere is pleasant and the food, while fairly simple, is enjoyable.

Every menu category has a name, as in "Al's appetizers," "Sammy's sandwiches" and "Elliot's entrees," and the fare is heavily centered around Italian classics: calamari ($8.95), chicken parmesan sandwich ($7.75), meat lasagna ($9.95 / $11.95), spaghetti ($7.95 plus $2 meatballs) and create-your-own pizza (11-inch small and 14-inch large).

Rotating daily specials supplement the regular menu, offering different items such as slider burgers ( $6.95), which are served in "Capone's style" with caramelized onions and drizzled with honey Dijon mustard.

The family-style pizza meal combo ($25) comes with a large, three-topping pizza, an order of garlic bread and four soft drinks.

There's also a kids' menu featuring spaghetti, chicken tender and grilled cheese, all for $5.95.

Through the sliding door the divides the restaurant from the bar, Capone's Grotto does have the feel of an artificial hideout. Faux cracks and crumbles stretch entire walls, alluding to the type of underground speakeasy that Capone and his fellow gangsters might have inhabited during the Prohibition Era.

Little Italy Olive Oil Company serves dinner until 11 p.m. on Sunday though Thursday and until 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Grotto hosts live music on weekends.


Talkbacks

PridaFoods | June 3, 2009 at 9:02 a.m. (report)

Well, I have to say I first came here during Dining Week Downtown Milwaukee and I was totally disappointed. I have passed this place for awhile and I thought it was so cute and couldn't wait to try it. When my best friend and I decided to go for the $20 diner I was excited to see what this place was like. Im a huge foodie and my favorite food is real good authentic Italian (I did use to live in NJ). I first got monzerella sicks... they were wrapped in a heavy coating of wonton wrappers! My spinach lasangna was pretty good until I kept getting gritty bites in the spinach. My friend got the chicken parm which was like southern fried chicken with tomato gravy... which should be lightly breaded. As for dessert I got a cannoli which was made with a icing filling instread of a sweet ricotta. The menu was so extensive that I felt like I was at a local diner in NJ. I have to say I will never return to this establishment.

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REX123 | Feb. 11, 2009 at 4:04 p.m. (report)

Just saw a Rat Pack show and wow they got it going on! The food and drink was great...... keep up the good work !

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I Love Eating Out | Feb. 10, 2009 at 8:48 a.m. (report)

Capone's Grotto is a fun, themed restaurant for couples and families alike. The staff is very friendly. The food is delicious. And the drinks are right on. We stopped in before a Bucks game and an enjoyable time. We'll definitely be back.

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blewparrot | Feb. 3, 2009 at 12:37 p.m. (report)

Recently met some compadre's there after work for cocktails and diner. We all decided to order Pizza, since this is an Italian restaurant. The service was fine, the food was marginal at best. Needless to say, I'll not be returning anytime soon.

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kb226 | Feb. 2, 2009 at 4:25 p.m. (report)

I have been to Capone's twice since it opened. It is amazing!!! It is one of my favorite pizza places in MKE. The food was great and both times I have been there the service has been awesome!!!

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