I‚Äôve driven past Pietro‚Äôs dozens of times and never really noticed it. One of my friends¬†suggested that I pay a visit, and I‚Äôm glad she did.
The story of Pietro‚Äôs, 2912 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., starts with Filippo Tarantino who worked as a baker in Sicily and¬†moved to the United States in 1959. He found his way to Milwaukee and worked for¬†Grebe‚Äôs Bakery until 1973 when he accumulated enough savings to open Pietro‚Äôs Pizza,¬†named after one of his sons.
Pietro Tarantino owns the business now, which is still very much a family operation. I¬†was told Pietro‚Äôs son is involved in the business and Pietro‚Äôs nephew, Fabio Tarantino,¬†took my order and made all of the pizzas on my visit. He also filled me in on the history¬†of the pizzeria.
After I placed my order, I sat at a small table in the large lobby. The table held a¬†cookbook and a basket of Dum Dum lollipops. I grabbed a watermelon sucker for dessert.
A whiteboard next to the take-out window listed the specials for the night. A 16-inch, one-topping pizza for $9.99, two lasagna dinners with salad and garlic bread for¬†$14.95, and choice of two sandwiches from meatball, Italian sausage, and a hot submarine¬†with fries for $11.95. The last two specials are available every night.
Other specials feature an 18-inch, two-topping pizza, onion rings and garlic bread¬†with cheese for $22.99 on Wednesdays, two chicken dinners with fries, side salad and¬†garlic bread for $13.99 on Thursdays, and one 16-inch, one-topping pizza with an¬†order of jumbo wings for $17.99 on Sundays.
Also in the lobby were a soda machine, a large freezer, a flat-screen TV and¬†several large, framed photos leaning against a wall, including an autographed photo of a young Cindy Crawford. I would put that one up on a wall.
I reviewed the rest of the menu, which listed a lengthy list of appetizers and shorter lists¬†of dinners, pasta, and sandwiches.
Dinners include chicken, shrimp, cod, and Chicken Cacciatora, all for less than $9.¬†Pasta dishes included lasagna or your choice of spaghetti or mostaccioli with meatballs,¬†Italian sausage, mushroom sauce or butter also less than $9.¬†
The pizzas are made to 12-, 14-, 16- and 18-inch crusts. Cheese pizzas range from $7.50¬†to $14.55 with additional toppings ranging from $1.35 to $2.45.¬†Pietro‚Äôs pizza crusts are a traditional hand-tossed crust, but the menu lists options for an¬†"extra thick" crust for an upcharge of $1.45 to $3.25 and a Double Decker pizza from¬†$4.25 to $7.25.
The Double Decker was described to me as one pizza on top of another. I had to see this,¬†so I ordered one with sausage, pepperoni, and mushrooms.¬†I was expecting to see layers, a crust topped with sauce, cheese and toppings, then¬†another crust, cheese and toppings. What I received was a very thick hand-tossed crust,¬†likely two full crusts stacked on one another, but then one layer of sauce, sausage, cheese,¬†pepperoni and mushrooms.
I liked it, but the cheese, sauce and toppings to crust ratio was too low around the edge of¬†the pizza. When a round pizza is cut into square slices, the "corner" slices are triangular.
These slices were pretty much just pizza crust. I think one of the four corner slices had a¬†pepperoni slice.
The other perimeter slices were topped a little more and the center slices were perfectly¬†topped, as expected.
I would recommend cutting the Double Decker into large triangular slices rather than¬†squares, so that each slice has more toppings.
The pizza sauce stood out more than anything for me. I loved it! It was on the spicy side¬†and provided a bold and delicious flavor. Pietro‚Äôs adds their special spice recipe to a¬†canned base and creates one of the better sauces I‚Äôve tasted.
The sausage chunks and pepperoni were somewhat spicy and flavorful, and the¬†mushrooms on Pietro‚Äôs pizzas are fresh, not canned.
The other pizza was a thin crust topped with ham and pineapple. The sauce and cheese¬†reached the edges better on this crust, so the square slices worked out well. The pineapple¬†was sweet and the ham was tender and delicious.
The crust was really crisp along the perimeter and then a little softer toward the center.¬†The spicy sauce provided a flavorful contrast to the sweetness of the pineapple. My¬†friend and I enjoyed this pizza a little more than the other due primarily to the topping to¬†crust ratio.
Pietro‚Äôs lists a few specialty pizzas on the menu. Pietro‚Äôs Special is topped with cheese,¬†sausage, mushroom and onion. The Super Special adds pepperoni, black olives and¬†green peppers.
There is also a veggie pizza with cheese, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and sliced¬†tomatoes.
A customer was picking up a Super Special on the traditional hand-tossed crust minus¬†the pepperoni, so I was able to get a couple of photos for your viewing pleasure. You‚Äôre¬†welcome.
I try to visit the pizzerias on traditionally slow nights, hoping I may get a chance to chat¬†with the owner. Some have no slow nights.
Fabio Tarantino was hustling when I visited,¬†taking phone orders, making pizzas and working the register until help arrived.¬†All the while, he maintained a friendly demeanor and a smile on his face. He seemed to¬†love what he did and took pride in it. Pietro‚Äôs will be added to my future visit list.
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 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.
Published Nov. 4, 2015
Rick Rodriguez discovered Matteo's Italian Ristorante after seeing it in his entertainment book, so he drove to Waukesha to check out this classic spot, which serves up pizza along with numerous other specials.
Published Oct. 25, 2015
Rick Rodriguez spills the beans on his top picks for Milwaukee pizza.
Published Oct. 7, 2015
Rick Rodriguez has been waiting to go to this Sheboygan Neopolitan pizza spot for 10 years.
Published Sept. 2, 2015
Zarletti Downtown is one of Rick Rodriguez's favorite restaurants, so when a new location opened in Mequon - and featured Neapolitan style pizza - he put it on his list to visit.
Published Aug. 5, 2015
Rick Rodriguez visits Coach's Pub & Grill, where he samples their pepperoni and cowboy pizzas.
Published July 1, 2015
Rick Rodridguez first learned about Paisano's in South Milwaukee from a Google search for South Side pizzerias, but recently a co-worker recommended them, so he decided to pay a visit.
Published June 3, 2015
Rick Rodriguez's constant search for Milwaukee's best pizza takes him to West Allis, where he samples some slices at Bari Pizzeria.