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In Dining

Vino Cappuccino managing partner Justin Luebben plates a slice of coconut almond cake. (PHOTO: Damien Jaques )

Brookfield's Vino Cappuccino has multiple personalities


It's fortunate Justin Luebben has the energy of youth. As the co-owner and managing partner of Vino Cappuccino in the old village section of Brookfield, he is responsible for a coffee shop, bakery, wine bar, pizzeria and casually serious restaurant.

Anytime between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday -- 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays -- the doors are open for (Alterra) coffee and a home-baked scone, muffin or bagel. As the day progresses, Vino Cappuccino offers salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pizzas, pastas and such substantive entrees as espresso encrusted beef tenderloin and grilled salmon over grilled vegetables.

Just try to resist the foot-high layer cakes Luebben and his staff bake. At $4.99 a slice, they feed three, he reports.

Vino Cappuccino is also a retail wine shop that encourages customers to take home a bottle, perhaps of something they tried in the restaurant. Wine by the glass is poured at prices that range from $6 to $9.50, and the selection is larger than the norm.

Waukesha native Luebben takes special enjoyment and pride in his wine selection. "We have chardonnays that are buttery and oaked, and some that aren't oaked," he says.

"We have zins that are peppery and zins that are jammy. We have some big cabs and some simple house cabs."

Luebben and a financial partner opened Vino Cappuccino last Dec. 1 on the ground floor of a new mixed used building at 2848 N. Brookfield Road. The restaurant is across the tracks from Brookfield's historic railroad station.

The attractive space has a modern but cozy feel to it, with exposed overhead air ducts, wood tables, a granite bar and a stained concrete floor in the bar-wine shop area. Abstract paintings representing the work of local artist Matt Glafcke hang on the walls and are for sale.

Oriental rugs are thrown over the floor in several corners of the room and in front of a fireplace that has leather chairs grouped around it. I can imagine sitting there with a glass of a good red on a freezing winter night.

The dining room, with a view of the train station and tracks, is carpeted and less rustic. Luebben, who has a degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management from UW-Stout, says Vino Cappuccino does about equal business at lunch and dinner. An outdoor dining deck was popular during the summer.

Vino Cappuccino enjoys a sizable grab and go business in the early morning. Breakfast items are restricted to the baked goods made from scratch in the kitchen.

A portabella mushroom sandwich and a roasted beet salad are the big sellers at lunch, according to Luebben. The sandwich consists of the portabella with provolone cheese, spinach, onion and tomato on a ciabatta roll and garlic aioli for $8.99. The salad contains roasted beets, goat cheese and toasted walnuts tossed with spring mix greens and a white wine vinaigrette for $11.99. Some of the dozen sandwiches on the menu are served on spinach or tomato basil flat bread.

The most unusual appetizers are mussels and sausage ($7.99), and Tuscan fried potatoes ($4.99). The former is a lightly spicy stew made with mussels and sausage steamed in white wine and chicken stock. Spices and bread crumbs are added, and it is served with French bread.

The potato appetizer consists of long cut Yukon gold spuds crispy fried and served with balsamic syrup and pancetta.

Six pasta dishes run the gamut from baked mac and cheese ($10.99, add $2.49 for chicken) to a shrimp and bowtie pasta, with sauteed shrimp, tomato and spinach tossed in garlic white sauce ($16.99).

Pizzas are build your own at Vino Cappuccino. Begin with a red sauce, garlic white sauce, pesto sauce or barbecue sauce, and add what you want. Customary toppings are joined by such items as pineapple, goat cheese and artichokes.

Prices start at $9.99 for a 12-inch pizza with two toppings and $17.99 for a two-topping 16-inch pie. Additional items and a double crust are extra.

In addition to the skyscraper layer cakes, house-made creme brule, tarts, tiramisu and cheesecake are offered as dessert.

Vino Cappuccino has a small children's menu.

"We welcome people in jeans and people who want to get a little dressed up," says Luebben, who adds that business has been good. "Come anytime and you will find something you like."


Talkbacks

embee | Feb. 19, 2011 at 4:41 p.m. (report)

We visited on Feb 18, 2011. I thought it was a newly opened restaurant because there were so many flaws and it seemed chaotic. Bartender (Renee) was surly, bar is too small, wine by the glass was awful. Host wrote down that we were a party of 2 when we told him there would be 6 of us. When he came to get us we told him that the other 4 people weren't there yet. He said that to hold our table we would need to be seated. He took us to a table for 4. We had lost our seats at the bar and had to stand for AN HOUR in the middle of the room until a table was set up for us. Food was overcooked and under-seasoned. A bad experience in every way.

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older/wiser | Nov. 16, 2010 at 8:06 a.m. (report)

Lunched here with five friends over the summer. Service was adequate. Beverage orders were all mixed up. Iced tea was refilled with Diet Coke, etc. Lunches were placed inappropriately as the waitress could not remember who ordered what. Not a big thing, but something that we notice. Most memorable impression was the noise level due to the open ceiling concept. Could not hear the people across the table from me because of the surrounding noise. Lots of dishes clanging and conversations among waitstaff. I hope it does well. The location is a bit too out of the way for me as I live in the southwest part of Milwaukee County. Might return to try the wine some evening. I hope the location is successful as I am a big advocate of local dining.

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