I used to live in Greenfield. That was when I first discovered Taninoâ€™s, 3525 S. 76th St., but I havenâ€™t been there in years.
The story of how Taninoâ€™s came to be is a great example of why I write these blogs. I mean, besides the fact that I love pizza â€“ a lot!
Frank Laffranchini immigrated to New York from Italy in 1973. He knew very little, if any, English. He wanted to find work, so he applied at a pizzeria where they spoke Italian.
After several years learning the pizza and restaurant business, he had an opportunity to move to Milwaukee or Houston to help open a restaurant for a friend that had restaurants scattered across the U.S.
After living in New York, he felt most comfortable with Milwaukee, so the move was on. The pizzeria was located at the Capitol Court mall area and 12 years ago, he moved to the current location on South 76th Street.
Frank co-owns Taninoâ€™s with his wife Janine and his brother John, who also moved to Milwaukee from New York.
When I arrived at Taninoâ€™s, I noticed two entrances, one for carry-out orders and one for the bar and dining room. I entered through the carry-out door to place my order, but was able to enter the bar and dining area through a connecting doorway.
The bar had an "old-school" 1970s vibe to it which I liked in this setting. The lights were dim and the walls were covered in dark panels. The bartender wore a vest and a tie like a real pro.
The dining room had the feel of an old supper club, also featuring dark wood work on the tables, chairs, and lower half of the walls. The upper half of the walls had a lighter beige color with wallpaper in some areas and paint in others.
The carry-out area was a long rectangular room. A Miller Lite sign hung next to the take- out window with the menu and business licenses posted along side.
I placed my order with a young man who told me he started working three weeks ago as one of the delivery drivers.
I chose the Meat Lovers Deluxe on thin crust and an order of hot wings, my preferred football game viewing cuisine.
While I waited, a man entered to pick up his order and called out to one of the employees, a friend of his I presume. Their banter was in Spanish and included the old "I havenâ€™t heard from you in a while" and led to a discussion about a recipe for Coquito (Puerto Rican egg nog). That definitely got my attention.
I made a mental note of the secret ingredient that the cook used in his recipe. Canâ€™t wait to use it! We really only drink it around the holidays. Is it November yet?
OK, so the menu at Taninoâ€™s includes your standard Italian dishes but also ribs, chicken, steaks, breaded pork chops, and seafood. Sandwiches, calzones, salads and appetizers round out the menu.
Pizzas are the popular item here. Specialty pizzas include Taninoâ€™s Special Deluxe with cheese, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, black olives and green peppers.
They also have a Hawaiian pizza and a BBQâ€™d Hen featuring a homemade barbecue sauce, grilled chicken breast, cheese and onions.
All of the pizza sauce at Taninoâ€™s is homemade from scratch using a mix of Roma and San Marzano tomatoes, and the crusts are also made daily with pizza dough made there from scratch.
My Meat Lovers Deluxe was full of sausage, pepperoni, diced Canadian Bacon and ground beef. Taninoâ€™s also curiously adds onions to their Meat Lovers, but it worked well with the ground beef, so no complaints here.
The sausage is made for Taninoâ€™s by a butcher on South 27th Street. The flavor was good, but it was mild. I prefer a spicy sausage on pizza.
The sauce had a really nice spicy flavor to it which I generally have not encountered with sauces made from scratch. Usually the tomato flavor over powers whatever seasoning has been added. I thought this sauce was a winner.
The crust was crispy around the edges, but soft in the center, likely from the grease of the meats that were piled on. Overall, I was pleased with my choice.
The funny thing is that I almost missed out on my choice. When I drove home and opened the pizza box, I found the Taninoâ€™s Special Deluxe in it.
I called the restaurant back thinking they gave me someone elseâ€™s pizza, but it turned out the delivery guy just made a mistake with my order.
I ordered the Meat Lovers Deluxe. He just wrote "deluxe." Then the kitchen assumed it was the Taninoâ€™s Special Deluxe. The menu has lists a Vegetable Deluxe. Three pizzas with the word "deluxe" in it and something like this is bound to happen.
Anyway, Taninoâ€™s apologized for the mistake and corrected the error. The good news is that I had another pizza to photograph.
Pizzas come in two sizes, 12 and 14 inches. You have the option of thin crust, hand-tossed or thick crust. The 12-inch cheese pizza starts at $9.50. Additional toppings start at $1.50 each and there is a small up-charge for thick crust starting at $.85.
If youâ€™re wondering about the hot wings, they sat for a bit while I drove back to pick up the right pizza. However, they were still crispy and the heat was created with a spice rub in the breading and a thin layer of sauce. I really liked the wings and would get them again.
More importantly, I enjoyed the pizza and discovered another good story of a man coming to the land of opportunity and now living the American Dream as a successful business owner for over thirty years.
Love Tanino's! One of those places you drive by all the time and never realize it's there. However, I have to call out the fact checking on this one - it's been located on south 76th for much, much longer than 12 years. I've been going here since grade school and sadly that was longer than 12 years ago.
1 comment about 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 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.
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.