Zaffiro's accepts pizza contest challenge
October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!
Pardon the pun, but the reason for Zaffiro's success as a pizzeria is a toss-up. Both the comfort-foody 'za and the cozy, laid-back atmosphere keep the tables populated most nights of the week.
Today, Mike Zaffiro is the sole owner of the popular pizza joint. His father and uncle, Bob and John Zaffiro, started making pizza at the Rock-A-Bye Tap in the then-predominantly-Italian Third Ward in 1954. They opened their own business in its current Farwell Avenue location in 1956.
"Making pizzas is in our blood," says Mike.
Originally, Zaffiro's was half its size, but in 1970, the Zaffiro brothers bought the barbershop next door and built the dining room area.
Bob invented the recipe for Zaffiro's signature thin and crispy crust about five decades ago. Today, the crust is one of Milwaukee's most famous pizza crusts.
"It's a secret family recipe," says Mike.
Zaffiro's most popular pizza is the "EBF" – Everything But Fish – that includes every available topping except anchovies. Other coveted pies include the sausage and mushroom and the vegetarian. Pizza prices range from $12.75 to $23.
Aside from pizza, the menu features appetizers (garlic bread, breaded mushrooms, etc.), sandwiches (pork sandwich, meatball sandwich, etc.), pasta (ravioli, tortellini, etc.) and seafood (fried shrimp, etc). Most of the food items are under $10.
Mike says he eats at least three pieces of pizza every day, and he loves the food so much, he frequents other pizzerias as well.
"Lisa's has always been a second place favorite," he says. "I ate their pizza as a kid, and I still eat it today."
Mike says his restaurant is deeply commitment to quality and consistency.
"We have offered a great product that's consistently good," he says. "We have customers that have been coming here for 40 years."
Zaffiro's is one of four restaurants competing in the OnMilwaukee.com "Slice of Milwaukee" pizza contest. The contest runs during the month of October, which is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com.
The contest challenges Zaffiro's, Classic Slice, Pizza Man and Balistreri's to create a "Milwaukee" pizza. The editors of OnMilwaukee.com will sample the four pizzas, pick the winner and announce it in an article -- which will feature all four of the recipes -- on Oct. 30. The pizzas are judged on taste, presentation, creativity and "Milwaukee-ness."
"Milwaukee is a town of hardworking people, and hardworking people make the pizza at Zaffiro's," says Mike.
I agree that Zaffiros is lackluster. I went in and ordered a Margarita pizza and they said they didn't make one. I ordered sausage instead and it was moderate at best...Sure it has a thin crust blah blah blah, but foodies, they aint. For a real gourmand pizza go to Times Square Bistro off of 1st in the 5th ward. My daughter lives in Brooklyn and when I go there, I have fresh moz and basil on my margarita, just like Times Sqyare does. Zaffiros light be tasty after a few pitchers of beer I suppose but who cant tell with all of the smoke in there
JIMNWI - I agree with you. I've eaten here a few times and the pizza was nothing to write home about. I usually love thin, cracker crust pizza, but the sauce is bland and there is absolutely no cheese on the pizza at all. I'm still down with Pizza Man for thin or thick crust.
I have grown to like and appreciate what you write. I must bring to your attention the fact that you use the word infamous incorrectly and have done so in the past as well.
Middle English, from Latin infamis, from in- + fama fame
1 : having a reputation of the worst kind : notoriously evil
JIMNWI: I've never had a burnt pizza, and I've never been short on toppings at Zaffiro's. From all the pizzas I've tried in Milwaukee (and I haven't tried them all obviously), Zaffiro's is No. 1 in my book. As for you, no need to beat your head against the wall; after all, taste is purely subjective. If you don't like Zaffiro's, you don't like it. It doesn't mean that you're wrong, and we're all right. It merely means that your taste for pizza is different than the rest of us. Go and eat what you like and don't worry about it. :-)
What about Barbierie's on Bluemound (spelling is wrong, i know)? That place is damn good. It has to be, in order for Coach George Karl and Rick Majerus to frequent. Mama's Pizza is good too.
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