In search of the perfect pizza: Filippo's
Filippo's Italian Restaurant, 6915 W. Lincoln Ave., is one of the many pizzerias on Lincoln Avenue that I've alluded to in past blogs. Several people have been asking when I was going to visit Filippo's, so I hope this alleviates their angst.
I visited on what I considered to be a slow night. Diners occupied a few tables, but the hostess station was being kept very busy answering calls for carry-out and delivery orders.
What I was able to learn was that Filippo Ticali started the business around 41 years ago at a location on 76th and Becher Streets and moved to the current location around 15 years later. Filippo's son Steve currently handles most of the business operations.
I also learned that the other Filippo's restaurants I found were not affiliated with this family business.
I made several attempts to find out the history of Filippo's, but Steve wasn't there on my visit, and he was too busy to chat on my two subsequent calls.
My friend and I looked over the menu to determine our options. The menu featured several standard Italian items with a few stand-out items, such as octopus salad, a veal cutlet sandwich and a Bagheria cheese steak featuring sautéed onions, Italian seasoning, mozzarella and a sour cream sauce over grilled beef tenderloin.
Entrée sections are broken down by chicken, veal, seafood, and Special Italian Dinners including spiedini a la Siciliano made with beef tenderloin wrapped around bread stuffing and baked and steak pizzaiola, beef tenderloin medallions pan-seared and simmered in marinara sauce, then topped with mozzarella cheese.
The menu also stated that the lasagna, manicotti and cannelloni are all made from scratch.
To our surprise, the pizza section was a challenge to navigate. For starters, the available toppings weren't listed. We turned the page a couple of times, but still couldn't find them.
We asked our server, and she was able to rattle them off. I was impressed even though there was no way for us to verify her accuracy.
She also told us that the crusts are hand-tossed, but a thin crust could be made upon request.
Filippo's offers a couple of specialty pizzas such as the Special topped with cheese, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and anchovies upon request. The Napolitana is topped with cheese, chopped tomatoes and anchovies. Other than that, pizzas are pretty much of the "build-your-own" variety.
The pizzas come in three sizes, a 12-inch small, 14-inch large and 16-inch extra-large.
Cheese pizzas range from $11.20 to $15.65. Onions can be added for $.50 to $.70. Other veggie toppings can be added for $1.50 to $2 and meat toppings can be added for $1.70 to $2.70.
We decided on a sausage, mushroom and onion on thin crust and a sausage and pepperoni on the regular hand-tossed pizza.
Both crusts were hand-tossed. The thin crust was almost the same density as the thicker hand-tossed crust in some sections around the perimeter. Both crusts were slightly crisp and chewy.
Overall, I wasn't a big fan of either crust, although I will say that I did like the texture of the center slices of both pizzas. They weren't crispy, but the ratio of crust to cheese and toppings was more to my liking with the center slices.
The sauce was lightly applied to both pizzas and was neutral in flavor – neither spicy nor sweet. I couldn't pick up any distinct flavors, but at the same time, I wouldn't say it was bland.
The mushrooms were canned, and you know I prefer fresh mushrooms.
The sausage and pepperoni impressed me. Maybe that is why several readers and OnMilwaukee.com staff recommended Filippo's.
The sausage chunks were very large and had good flavor. The pepperoni slices were somewhat spicy and curled up in the "bowl" shape that takes me back to the pizzas from my childhood. However, I'm still looking for the smaller, bowl shaped pepperoni, about the size of a nickel.
The sausage and pepperoni definitely saved my pizza experience, but overall, these pizzas didn't live up to the hype.
I'm willing to take a break from the thin, crispy crust pizza, and I've made notes to re-visit pizzerias with hand-tossed or pan style crusts. It's the sauce that typically wins me over. I need a rich sauce with lots of bold flavor.
Those of you who prefer a thick and chewy crust will likely enjoy Filippo's pizza. Clearly there are many who prefer that style. A business doesn't last 41 years surrounded by competition without loyal fans.
I wish Filippo's continued success as I move on to the next pizzeria. Stay tuned.
olderwiser | May 13, 2013 at 10:39 a.m. (report)
We have not been back to Fillipos in quite awhile. Maybe two years. Our two most recent experiences were not favorable, but we had been loyal followers from long ago when they first moved to the location on Lincoln Ave. Our last pizza had a sloppy sauce that tasted canned and very skimpy toppings. Maybe we were there too late in the evening as it was close to closing time. One thing that always confused us was when the strolling musicians stopped at our table (which made us uncomfortable) how much should we tip them and should we continue to eat our food while it is still hot or politely stop for five minutes to listen to the musicians? Do they still have live music on the weekends-- or maybe this entertainment has been discontinued.
The Filippo's Special is the best pizza by far.
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