A few years ago, I was headed to the coffee shop formerly known as Alterra on the lake for its Musica del Lago series. I decided to pick up a pizza on the way to share with my mother and sister.
After some thought I decided on a new place I’d heard about called Times Square Bistro & Pizzeria, 605 S. 1st St. in the Walker’s Point area. I was hooked after my first bite.
Owner Sean Henninger opened his pizzeria in April 2007. Before the pizzeria, he owned the Atomic Chocolate Company, which he still owns. Atomic Chocolate Company shares the space with the pizzeria.
Henninger is a self-taught chef, and all of the recipes for menu items are his own. He lived in Europe for a few years with his family and discovered there wasn’t much pizza there – nothing he liked anyway.
His favorite style was the New York-style pizza, and after his family moved back to the States, he decided to work in a pizzeria to learn the pizza-making process.
Later he also started experimenting with chocolates as a way to take a break from the hot kitchen. He shared them with friends and family and received a lot of compliments, and later decided to start a business making chocolates because no one else was making chocolates locally at the time. His Atomic Chocolate Company officially started in 2001.
Several years later, Henninger was approached about opening a pizzeria making New York-style pies because, again, at the time no one else in the area was making them. Since it was his favorite style of pizza, the decision seemed like a no-brainer. I’ll tell you about Henninger’s next project in a bit.
Times Square Bistro & Pizzeria has a casual setting. Lightly stained wooden tables and dark-stained wooden chairs fill most of the dining room. The walls are painted dark beige and hold framed color and black and white photos and posters of New York City.
Menu boards hang above the counter and a display of Atomic Chocolate candy bars and truffles sits in front of the counter.
You can quench your thirst on fountain Coke products, canned soda, bottles of Sprecher soda or tap beers from Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Company, Potosi and Central Waters.
The menu features appetizers, salads, chicken wings, sandwiches, nine different calzones, pizza and pasta.
All pizzas and pastas are served with homemade garlic rolls, which are a treat in themselves with their hot, crispy, garlic buttery outside contrasted by the soft and chewy center.
A couple at the table next to mine ordered the chicken artichoke salad and a penne al forno. Both were very large, and the penne with Italian sausage, provolone and mozzarella cheese had me wishing I had room for more.
Pizzas are made to 12- and 16-inch crust sizes. Build-your-own pies start at $10.95 and $14.95 with additional toppings ranging from 95 cents to $2.50 for the specialty toppings like meatballs, roast beef and sun-dried tomatoes.
Specialty pizzas also come in 12 and 16 inches and range from $10.95 to $19.75. There are 13 specialty pizzas, but a few that caught my eye included the New York White Pizza, Meatball Bomber with sliced meatballs, peppers and onions, and the Prosciutto Crudo which is topped with Roma tomatoes, onions, parmesan, mozzarella and prosciutto all over a garlic and olive oil-brushed crust.
I decided on the New York White Pizza. The crust is topped with olive oil, garlic, provolone, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Then it’s topped with Italian seasonings and another light drizzle of olive oil.
The crust was crispy on the outside and soft and chewy inside, as you would expect from a New York-style crust. The center of the crust was thin, allowing for the proper folding of each slice the way they fold them in the "big apple."
As far as "non-traditional" pizzas go, this was one of my favorites. I loved the balance of flavors. You could taste every topping, from the olive oil to the garlic to the Italian seasoning. This was a nice way to take a break from the typical red sauce and meat-topped pie I usually go for.
However, I just can’t bring myself to leave a pizzeria without sampling the red sauce, sausage and pepperoni, so I ordered a build-your-own and added mushrooms with the meat toppings.
The sauce had a subtle spiciness to it, which complemented the spicy and savory chunks of sausage and the spicy pepperoni, one of the spiciest pepperoni slices I’ve had. The mushrooms were fresh, so they automatically made it onto my "nice list."
While New York-style pizzas are not my favorite style, they are a runner-up to the thin, cracker crust style I prefer, and so far, Times Square is my favorite pizzeria for New York style pies in Milwaukee. Yes, I’ve been to your favorite place in Milwaukee. Actually, there is one recently opened New York-style pizzeria I haven’t visited yet, but I will be visiting them soon, so stay tuned.
Times Square Pizzeria recently started opening on Sundays, and while normal Sunday hours are 2 to 9 p.m., Henninger understands the relationship between football games and food, so during football season, they’re open one hour before Packers games and they deliver.
Henninger wasn’t in during my visit, but I left my number and he was gracious enough to call me after he finished teaching his confectionery class at the Art Institute of Wisconsin – busy guy!
Not busy enough, apparently, because Henninger is now trying to buy a portable smoker that he’ll use to create and sell smoked bacon, ham and fish. The latter was a skill he learned when he lived in Alaska for a stint. The former he experienced as an Army brat on his family travels.
Smoking meats and fish was something he really enjoyed and wants to get back into. He has ideas to share the smoker with neighboring businesses, use it to expand his catering options and hopefully use it for a future Walkers Point block party, now that the area is blossoming with more businesses.
He plans to purchase the smoker from a neighboring business, but he could use our help. Henninger will host a pig roast party, Dia de los Puercos (day of the pigs) at the bistro on Sunday, Oct. 13, and we can confirm a plate of yummy goodness with a small donation, as little as $10.
In fact, if you want to impress your friends at your Packers party that day, donate $500 and have a pan of smoked pork and side dishes delivered to you and up to eight guests for the game.
Your ticket to the party and more details can be obtained at his Indiegogo page here. I plan to be at the party. See you there, perhaps?
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