Tutto strikes balance between sports bar and upscale Italian dining
When Milwaukee's famed Italian restaurant, Giovanni's, closed its doors in 2006 and was torn down and replaced by a DigiCopy, many long-term customers and former employees lamented its passing. The restaurant, operated by the Safina family, was a Milwaukee icon, and carried its own legacy of stories, memories and recipes that have continued to live on in its physical absence.
When the Safina family opened Tutto, 1033 N. Old World 3rd St., in October 2007, some of the recipes and familiar faces of Giovanni's reemerged in a more contemporary environment with a much lower price point, while still maintaining high quality food and service.
This combination is a rare find compared to the entourage of newer restaurants popping up these days, and it makes this location -- an interesting mix of sports bar meets upscale-casual Italian dining -- a welcome addition to the Milwaukee dining scape.
Tutto, which means "everything" in Italian, makes a great stab at being all things to all people, which they do with surprising success. On one visit, my dining companions were so enjoying the food, wine and service they didn't even notice our in-booth television. On another visit with a different dining companion, we were able to keep tabs on the basketball game while eating a juicy, flavorful burger and parmesan fries.
The menu at Tutto welcomes both small plate dining with cocktails and martinis or a relaxed evening entrée with a bottle of wine. Melanzana fritte (sic) -- eggplant fries $8 -- are offered either as a small plate option or as a side with sandwiches and are delightfully substantive, without the limpness or grease you sometimes find in fried eggplant strips. Caesar salad ($8) is a solid rendition, and baked French onion soup (cup $3, bowl $5) is also classic and good with browned and melted gruyere and a parmesan crouton.
Burgers here proved well worth their $10 and $11 price tags, since one burger with fries is easily enough for two people to share. A Giacomo ($11) paired pico de gallo, avocado, sautéed mushrooms and onions and chipotle mayo with a skillfully cooked 10-oz. burger that could stand with the best of them. Phatty pattie ($11) took the same 10-oz. delight and topped it with bacon, caramelized onions and swiss formaggio. From their extensive sandwich menu, Jojo Blackwell ($11) offered a blackened chicken breast with heightened heat from a roasted poblano chile and caramelized onion topping quelled with melted mozzarella cheese.
Pastas at Tutto were excellent. Fettuccine alfredo with shrimp ($14) cast perfectly cooked fettuccine noodles in a light, creamy Alfredo that carried the flavors of fresh parmesan cheese and shrimp. Veal Parmesan ($19), too, was a winner. The veal cutlets were thinly sliced, lightly breaded and baked over thick spaghetti topped with just enough mozzarella cheese to make the dish comforting and delicious in a basic red sauce.
Prices at Tutto are reasonable, and while the space is trendy, it still feels warm and inviting. And service here is definitely above par. Both visits yielded good, professional service with well-timed delivery and prompt attention to every detail.
A weekday lunch had us in and out the door in under an hour, which will be very attractive for Downtown diners, and ambience here beckons for after work cocktails and appetizers, or something a little more than bar food before heading to the Bradley Center. Tutto fills a much-needed missing niche on Old World 3rd Street, and the owners' experience and expertise in the restaurant industry shows well in this new location, to the patrons' benefit.
Ironic | April 3, 2008 at 7:58 a.m. (report)
I thought the name of the place was kind of ironic since the menu is pretty limited, not terribly adventurous and full of heavy and greasy stuff (a couple salads aside). The food we had was good and the place looks nice. Our server was fine. With a menu makeover this place could be great.
KidJ | March 20, 2008 at 5:04 p.m. (report)
Very impressive. They should, though, kill the smoking at the bar.
I ordered takeout tonight and the service was great! I chose "Dave's Grilled Cheese" sandwich, minus the bacon, and it was quite tasty. The parmesan fries are good, not too greasy and pleasingly thin. For a quick dinner between the workday and workday part 2, Tutto is a great, fast gourmet dinner. I will return soon!
Myke & Debbi | March 17, 2008 at 6:06 p.m. (report)
Glad 2 see the Saffina's r back in Business.Giovanni's while never making the "official" top restaurant lists,was always 1 of MKE's very best.We used to go frequently.Catch the limo to Riverside Shows or Bucks Games(when they were worth seeing pre-Kohl)Enjoy the Primo seats 1 armed Max used to get 4 us.Always preceded by an top-shelf meal cooked by Giovanni & Mrs. themslves.Fond memories,we will have to try the new place!
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