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Zayna's Pizza has been in business since 1990.
Zayna's Pizza has been in business since 1990.

In search of the perfect pizza: Zayna's

One of the grade schools I attended is near Brady Street. Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time patronizing businesses in the area and observing the development that's taken place over the years.

Sciortino’s Bakery is still there. Glorioso’s has moved across the street and expanded. Bosley now occupies the space where Cataldo’s once stood, home of one of my favorite thin crust pizzas. I didn’t even know that Zaffiro’s, which anchors the east end of Brady Street at Farwell Ave., existed back then; but I wish I had.

A couple of other Brady Street area pizzerias have come and gone, but one pizzeria that has held its ground on the west end of Brady Street is Zayna’s, 714 E. Brady St.

Located in a small, unassuming, white building next to Casablanca, Zayna’s offers a large menu and features hand-tossed pizzas on 10-, 12-, 14-, and 16-inch housemade crusts. Cheese pizzas range from $8.99 to $14.99 with additional toppings for $1.49 to $2.49 each.

The rest of the menu includes chicken, ribs, fish and shrimp, all available in buckets for family meals, as well as pasta, lasagna, gyros, sub sandwiches, hot sandwiches, salads, desserts, and a sizable list of appetizers and sides. Zayna’s also offers combo meals pairing pizzas with fried chicken, ribs, or fish. There are always special offers or coupons available; just ask.

Zayna’s Pizza opened on North Avenue in 1990 and moved to the current location around 15 years ago under owner Younis Abdel-Hamid. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to speak with Abdel-Hamid during my visit, and the staff on-site didn’t have much information for me to share with you on the history of the business.

I had driven past Zayna’s dozens of times and thought to give them a try but never had the opportunity. A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I were hanging out at Brenner Brewing and got hungry. I remember a group having pizza delivered to Brenner’s when I was there watching the NCAA basketball tournament. They told…

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Carini's is one of the restaurants in town that serves up authentic Neapolitan style pizza
Carini's is one of the restaurants in town that serves up authentic Neapolitan style pizza

In search of the perfect pizza: Carini's La Conca D'Oro

My introduction to Carini’s La Conca D’Oro, 3468 N. Oakland Avenue, occurred a few years ago when I was in the area and saw they were open for lunch. With a lot of help from his brothers and other family members, Peter Carini opened his restaurant in 1996, renovating, updating and adding improvements over the years – including a wood burning pizza oven, imported from Naples, Italy last year.

The name La Conca D’Oro is derived from Palermo, Italy, where Carini’s father was a fisherman. When the fisherman looked toward Palermo from the sea, it looked like a golden shell, a conca d’oro.

Carini moved from Porticello, a fishing village near Palermo, to Milwaukee in 1966 because his grandfather had already been settled here. He didn’t speak any English but learned while working, initially as a paper boy and later in the kitchen of the Milwaukee Athletic Club, where he started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to executive chef after 16 years. Much of that time was spent working with immigrant German cooks and chefs, crediting them with much of what he learned about cooking.

After working as executive chef from 1975 to '84, he left to work at Zorba’s in Brookfield and Nico’s in Franklin until he decided to open his own restaurant, which he currently co-owns with his wife Janice. She runs the front of the house and keeps the books.

A friend suggested that Carini consider adding pizza to the menu because it provided better margins, but Carini wanted his pizza to be authentic and separate the restaurant from the other pizzerias in the area. When he purchased the wood burning oven, he called his son, Gregg, to share the news. Gregg was working in Nashville at the time with a couple of gentlemen from Naples, Italy – not Florida.

Gregg Carini went to work studying Neapolitan pizzas and looking into the VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana, or "True Neapolitan Pizza") certification process. Gregg Carini attended the culinary program at MATC and worked at th…

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Scotty's Bar & Pizza is worth a repeat visit, according to Rick Rodriguez.
Scotty's Bar & Pizza is worth a repeat visit, according to Rick Rodriguez.

In search of the perfect pizza: Scotty's Bar and Pizza

Since the readership of this pizza blog has grown to double digits, I’ve had one or two folks offer their suggestions of pizzas I should try. Most of them I’ve already written about, but once in a while, I’ll add a suggestion to my list, and sometimes I’ll be intrigued enough to check one out.

Such is the case with Scotty’s Bar and Pizza, 3921 S. Clement Ave. The key words "thin crust," "good pizza" and "small bar" were repeated by enough people that I felt a visit was warranted. I stopped in on a Saturday afternoon with a friend to find a full bar and an empty dining room. We grabbed a table and were soon greeted by Shay, a bartender who was playfully sassy and added fun to our dining experience. She was great!

Neither of the owners were there on my visit, but I was able to speak to Gary Tiedke by phone. He and longtime friend Marcie Rone bought Scotty’s Bar and Pizza 15 years ago. Tiedke owned a bar in the past and currently owns a tile company that his son manages. Tiedke said Scotty’s had such a great reputation, he felt it made sense to buy the business when it was for sale.

I peeked into the kitchen through the ordering window in the dining room and saw the two Blodgett ovens used to bake the pizzas that are made fresh. I was told that the pizza dough is made from scratch and delivered several times per week by Canfora Bakery, also located in Bay View. Canfora also makes the seeded French bread rolls that Scotty’s uses for its burgers. In fact, most of the pizza toppings are sourced from local businesses, including vegetables from Layton Fruit Market and the Italian sausage made specifically for Scotty’s by a local butcher.

There are two small dining rooms in the back and a game room adjacent to the bar. The walls are filled with old radios and other collectibles, such as clocks and metal signs representing gas stations, auto racing and classic cars. I literally enjoyed staring at the walls, while waiting for our pizzas.

Scotty’s pizza o…

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The classic combo pizza at Albanese's has a nice crisp crust and plenty of cheese, but not quite enough sauce for Rick.
The classic combo pizza at Albanese's has a nice crisp crust and plenty of cheese, but not quite enough sauce for Rick.

In search of the perfect pizza: Albanese's Roadhouse

One of the movie theatres I frequent is the Marcus Majestic in Waukesha. On my way to there, I’ve driven past Albanese’s Roadhouse, 2301 Bluemound Rd., in Waukesha, dozens of times. The parking lot was always pretty full, so I kept telling myself I would stop in when it wasn’t so busy.

It didn’t seem that would ever happen, so I just stopped in on a random Thursday evening when I was in the area. Thursday night happens to be $.40 wing night. Monday through Thursday nights also feature other specials, including an Italian style fish fry on Fridays and Sicilian style pork chops on Saturdays.

On my visits, I sat at the bar and was well taken care of by the bar manager, Phil Kelly, who happens to be Joe Albanese’s cousin. He was gracious enough to answer my questions and give me a little background about the restaurant between tending to other customers.

Albanese’s Roadhouse opened 33 years ago at the current location by Dominic Albanese. There were two other Albanese’s locations owned by family members, but this location is the only restaurant that remains. Around 10 years ago, Joe Albanese took over the business from his father, Dominic.

Albanese’s menu includes some unique items such as scungilli (conch) in the appetizer section, spedini and Italian sausage cacciatore in the House Specialties section, baked cod Neapolitan in the Seafood section, homemade amaretto cheesecake on the dessert list, as well as pastas, sandwiches, soups and salads.

Pizzas come in 10-, 12-, 14-, and 16-inch sizes, with cheese pizzas ranging from $7.75 to $13.75. Extra toppings range from $1.75 to $2.50 each. A 10 inch gluten-free crust is available for same price as a 10 inch regular crust, including specialty pizzas. Gluten intolerant diners will also find gluten-free mostaccioli on the menu.

Specialty pizzas include the Calabria topped with double pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions, the spinach special topped with spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms, the classic combo wit…

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