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In Dining

The mama at Mimma's Restaurant on Brady Street has been serving authentic Italian for years.

Italian dining guide




Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Oct. 26, 2013 at 5:03 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.


Few ethnic cuisines are better represented in Milwaukee than that of the Italians. We've got nearly everything, from traditional Italian-American red sauce joints to upscale eateries and adventurous menus. There has been an upsurge recently in fine Italian dining in Milwaukee and so it's time to present some highlights of Italian dining in Brew City.

Of course, there are far too many restaurants to list them all, so here are some of our favorites (not including places that are considered pizzerias). Add your favorite using the talkback feature at the bottom of the story.

Buon appetito!

Ann's Italian Restaurant
5969 S. 108th Pl., Hales Corners, (414) 425-5040
annsitalian.com

From veal cannelloni to pizza, Ann's is a southwest side favorite. Don't miss the homemade ravioli.

Balistreri's Bluemound Inn and Italian Ristorante
812 N. 68th St., (414) 475-1414 (ristorante)
6501 W. Bluemound Rd. (414) 258-9881
balistreris.com
A Wauwatosa favorite, Balistreri's Italian Ristorante is best known for its delicious pizza, but also serves a variety of other traditional Italian-American favorites in a lively, intimate setting. The Bluemound Inn location has the same great pizza but focuses more on steaks, fresh fish, and elaborate Italian specialties. It's also more conveniently located for sports fans attending Brewer Games.

Barbiere's Italian Inn
5844 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 4530-3800
1021 Milwaukee Ave., (414) 764-1234
barbieres.com

Sal Barbiere, a brother to the founder of Mama Mia's, established this restaurant in 1963. Start off your meal with their famous garlic bread. In true Italian fashion, they won't let you leave hungry: all dinners come with minestrone soup, antipasto salad, garlic bread and spumoni ice cream.

Buca di Beppo
1233 N. Van Buren St., (414) 224-8672
bucadibeppo.com
This chain opened to great reviews from the public a few years back thanks to its kitschy interior (hello, Sophia Loren!) and gargantuan portions. If family-style tables, a loud and lively atmosphere and heaping bowls of OK pasta are your thing, Buca is for you.

Cafe La Scala
631 E. Chicago St., (414) 223-2800
lascalamilwaukee.com

An outward focus -- i.e. al fresco dining in the courtyard -- has given some new legs to this trattoria located adjacent to the bocce courts at the Italian Community Center in the Third Ward. So has its reformulation as a family-style place that now offers pizzas to diners and for take-out and delivery to the many new nearby condos and apartments.

Calderone Club
8001 N. Port Washington Rd., Fox Point, (414) 352-9303

calderoneclubfoxpoint.com
A classic checkered-tablecloth Italian restaurant, Calderone dishes up mounds of delicious pasta like mamma used to make. They also make some of the city's most beloved thin crust pizza.

Carini's La Conca d'Oro
3468 N. Oakland Ave., (414) 963-9623
carinislaconcadoro.com
Housed in a former Mexican restaurant and tavern, the Carini brothers serve up the city's best seafood-based Italian cuisine. From shrimp and scallops to swordfish and more, the dishes here will transport you to Palermo and the original Conca d'Oro. The lunch buffet is also a good option.

Caterina's Ristorante
9104 W. Oklahoma Ave., West Allis, (414) 541-4200
caterinasristorante.com

Homemade pasta joins a range of chicken, steak and seafood dishes at this warm family-owned restaurant, which opened in 1982. Diners who order dinner entrees (which come with soup, salad and a side), you get a complimentary antipasto tray with cheeses, olive salad and charcuterie.

Centro Cafe
808 E. Center St., (414) 455-3751
centrocaferiverwest.com
If you're looking for a warm-your-heart pasta dinner and you aren't under time constraints, Centro is for you. Our Amy Schubert counsels: "While you're there, take a look at the wine list. With options ranging from $7 a glass to over $100 a bottle, there's a taste for every palate." Note: Centro only accepts cash, but has an ATM on-site.

Divino Wine and Dine
2315 N. Murray Ave., 414-212-2222
divinomke.com
The former Palermo Villa is perhaps best known for its delicious pizza, but co-owners Dean Cannestra and Tina Conley also dish up a range of pastas and other Italian specialties in a recently redecorated restaurant that also houses a full-service bar.

Filippo's Italian Restaurant
6915 W. Lincoln Ave., (414) 321-4040
What more can you ask for from an Italian restaurant than heaping portions and great service? Filippo's is known for its pizza but the menu doesn't stop there. Yes, the pizza is amazing (and the crust is said to be close to perfection) but they also offer various poultry entrees and pasta dishes.

Ferrante's
10404 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon (262) 241-5420
ferrantes.com
This family-owned gem has been a staple of the North Shore for 34 years. Come in for the friendly service and adorable checkered tablecloths. Stay for the amazing food. The Chicken Cacciatore can't be beat.

Il Mito East
1028 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 271-1414
ilmitoeast.com
Chef Michael Feker's latest venture takes its tasty shape in the ground floor of the Knickerbocker on the Lake on Juneau Avenue. Its beautiful patio is positively Mediterranean and lends itself perfectly to summer dining. The interior dining room is a sleek marriage of rustic charm and city elegance. And the food - well, it's Chef Michael Feker. Need we say more?

Il Mito Enoteca
6913 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa (414) 443-1414
ilmito.com
Chef Michael Feker's Tosa Italian eatery is very popular in the neighborhood and draws from beyond, too. The atmosphere is inviting and the changing menu always interesting. Feker's personality is also key to the allure of the restaurant and the attached "Chef Feker's School of Culinary Magic."

Joey Buona's Italian Grille
500 N. Water St., (414) 272-8662
joeybuona.com
New York-style pizza and the kind of panini you can pick up anywhere in Italy are married to mouth-watering desserts and a range of more weighty entrees. The upper level contains breathtaking banquet facilities with a prime view of the city.

Louise's Trattoria
801 N. Jefferson St., (414) 273-4224
275 Regency Ct., Brookfield, (262) 784-4275
louiseswisconsin.com

Sure, it started out as a chain restaurant, but now it's locally owned by the same folks who own Water St. Brewery, Turner Hall and a host of other establishments. The salads are unrivaled and the minestrone is satisfying. The bread and accompanying oil and vinegar are addictive and a wood-fired oven makes the pizzas and calzoni scrumptuous.

Maggiano's Little Italy
2500 N. Mayfair Rd. (414) 978-1000
maggianos.com
Sure, it's a national chain - but when you come into their Tosa location, you'll feel like family. The portions can't be beat, the atmosphere is intimate, and the service is friendly. They're famous for their Rigatoni "D" served with herb-roasted chicken, mushrooms, caramelized onions and creamy Marsala sauce.

Mia Famiglia
10049 W. Forest Home Ave., Hales Corners, (414) 425-0507
miafamigliarestaurant.com
Few would expect to find one of the most beautiful family-owned restaurants in the Milwaukee area on a busy strip of West Forest Home Avenue in Hales Corners. The patio has two tiers, and is set in a garden with a stone path and muraled fence, making it one of the most romantic and peaceful dinner getaways around. Add stellar food, reasonable prices and portioning and great service and you've got Mia Famiglia.

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