When I need to get Downtown from Brown Deer after work without risking congestion on I-43, I like taking Highway 57 and following it onto Green Bay Avenue. Traffic moves well, and I get to find different places to eat like Mini's, 6343 N. Green Bay Ave.
The "homemade pizza" sign got my attention. It always does.
Driving by, I couldn't tell if it was bar that served pizza or a restaurant with a bar. It turns out to be both. There is a distinct bar with games, TVs and a mural of Vince Lombardi and the Packers of the Super Bowls I & II era.
There is also a separate dining room complete with booths and covers covered with red-and-white checkered tablecloths. The back wall featured a large mural of the Super Bowl XXXI-winning Packers team. It would have looked great in my living room.
I was greeted by owner, Mike Maniaci. "Mini" was a nickname he had growing up. It started with his last name being frequently mispronounced as "Miniaci" and further developed due to his stature among teammates on sports teams.
When I entered the bar area, I felt like an outsider in a room full of regulars, even though I wasn't feeling any "stares." Maniaci was very cordial and welcoming, nonetheless.
Mini's has been in business for 17 years. Maniaci learned the business while working in his uncle's restaurant. The recipes he uses for the pizzas came from his grandmother.
He gave me a menu, but I really didn't need it. I knew what I was ordering. Heck, you knew what I was ordering ‚Äď cheese, sausage and pepperoni, please. Much to my delight, I learned that Maniaci made the pizzas himself. I believe there is always a little extra love in the food when the owner makes it.
I perused the one-page menu while I waited for my pizza. It featured sandwiches, subs, salads and sides, such as garlic bread, cheese bread and pizza bread.
The pizzas come in 12-inch and 16-inch pies. The 12-inch cheese pizza is $9.50, with $1.25 for additional toppings. The 16-inch cheese pizza is $12.95 with $1.75 for additional toppings.
When my pizza arrived I was happy to see a thin crust. I didn't ask before I ordered, so I wasn't sure what style crust they made. I bit into the first slice and was surprised at how crispy the crust was. The crust was less crispy toward the center and even a bit chewy.
However, it wasn't the crust that left an impression with me. The homemade sauce was a combination of spicy and sweet. Both were subtle, but still noticeable.
In fact, I think Mini's puts just the right amount of sauce on their pizzas. When I bite into a slice and have to wipe sauce off both sides of my mouth, that's the right amount.
The large chunks of Italian sausage had a great, bold flavor as good as any Italian sausage I've tasted on a pizza. Mini's used to get their Italian sausage from Dentice Bros Italian Sausage, but when they closed up shop, Maniaci had to find another supplier. He said it wasn't easy, but I think he found a good one.
Mini's is the type of business that can go unnoticed if you're not looking for it. I'm glad I took that route Downtown often enough so that I did notice. We should all keep our eyes on the road while driving of course, but feel free to take a little peek every now and then. You never know what you'll find.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Rick Rodriguez
Published Aug. 3, 2016
Rick Rodriguez says he doesn't think he's ever written about a pizza place as new as Fixture Pizza Pub. In this installment of his pizza blog, he gives the lowdown on the space, the food and a few other interesting facts about the owners and offerings.
Published July 15, 2016
Rick Rodriguez is often asked "who makes the best pizza?" or "who makes your favorite pizza?" The latter is a difficult question to answer, and the former is nearly impossible to answer. Still, here are some his top picks for Milwaukee pizza.
Published July 6, 2016
Sometimes Rick Rodriguez looks in unexpected places for pizza - like Shaker's Cigar Bar, for instance. But does this venue that regularly gets onto lists of the most haunted bars in America make the cut when it comes to delicious pizza?
Published June 1, 2016
Despite a sizable menu that includes hand-tossed pizzas, pizza blogger Rick Rodriguez dings Zayna's Pizza for the dense crust and a Mexican pizza on which the toppings "could use a little tweaking."
Published May 4, 2016
The folks at Carini's La Conca D'Oro have a long and storied history, with roots in Italy. They serve up authentic Neapolitan pizza, along with other Italian dishes including a variety of seafood entrees.
Published April 6, 2016
It's not often Rick Rodriguez writes about reader-selected spots. But the words "thin crust," "good pizza" and "small bar" were repeated by enough people that he felt a visit to Scotty's was warranted.
Published March 2, 2016
In addition to pizza, Albanese's offers a slew of specials, including wings, Sicilian style pork chops and Italian style fish fry on Fridays. They also happen to have gluten free pizza that's worth seeking out.
Published Feb. 3, 2016
Rick Rodriguez says the 25 minute drive to Doc's Dry Dock in Pewaukee is worth the trip, especially for their BBQ chicken pizza, which sported a crisp crust with spicy sauce and a special secret seasoning.
Published Jan. 6, 2016
Rick Rodriguez tries out Nori's Pizza, a New York-style pizza spot that opened on South 13th Street in July. The verdict? Even after just a short period, Nori's seems to be establishing a reputation for good 'za.
Published Dec. 2, 2015
Pizza lover Rick Rodriguez grew up in Riverwest and enjoyed pizza from two neighborhood restaurants. Since then, a void in neighborhood pizzerias developed. Fortunately, in December 2014, Riverwest Pizza opened.