By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 24, 2023 at 11:03 AM

There’s something new coming this spring to 1033 S. 1st St., the former home of Laughing Taco in Walker’s Point. And it promises to offer an intimate, innately social dining experience unlike any other in the city.

Behind the restaurant – which will be simply named "1033" – are industry veterans Rob Levin and Tony Bisciglia, owners of 2A Wine Merchants and WACH Hospitality, an acronym which incorporates the terms wine, ambiance, culinary and hospitality. Menu development will be headed up by chef partner, Justin Carlisle of Ardent and Red Light Ramen.

Levin says the restaurant, which is slated to open during the first week in May, will take full advantage of the restaurant’s small, intimate quarters to create a space focused on uniquely intimate experiences. That means shared plates, wine and the socialization that naturally accompanies an evening of grazing on delicious fare.

Concept sketch of 1033 by THREE SIXTY
Concept sketch of 1033 by THREE SIXTY

What to expect

Design for the cozy restaurant, which weighs in at under 1000 square feet, will be enacted by THREE SIXTY, the design and build firm behind spots like 2A Wine Merchants, Dandan, Hacienda Beer Co. and more intimate spaces like Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern.

Levin says the space will express equal parts elegance and grit, sporting refined details juxtaposed with industrial elements that pay homage to the Walker’s Point neighborhood.

Rendering of 1033 by THREE SIXTY
Rendering of 1033 by THREE SIXTY

The interior will be built around a palette of warm tones: browns, greens and reds. Metalwork on the street-facing windows will create privacy from within and an air of mystery from the outside. Meanwhile graffiti on the internal walls of the space will bring an edgy, urban vibe.

Rendering of 1033
Rendering of 1033 by THREE SIXTY

“The goal is for guests to walk through the door and enter a space that completely transports them to another place,” says Levin. “We want there to be an emotional response to the visual aspects of the space, even before we’ve been able to engage the guests’ senses with their food and beverages.”

The focal point of the restaurant will be the restaurant’s “island,” a 14 seat bar-style counter which will host two reserved seatings per evening, one at 5:30 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s the center island in your kitchen,” says Levin. “It’s the nerve center, the place where everything happens. Our goal is to create an experience that captures that intimacy and translates it into an amazing, hospitality-forward experience.”

Shareable plates, seafood, wine

The experience will center around a menu of as many as 25 shareable plates designed by Carlisle, which will run the gamut from vegetable-centered dishes and salads to offerings like tinned fish and entrees presented and served in portions appropriate for sharing.

A unique aspect of the restaurant will be an old school raw bar which will feature items like mussels, crab, lobster, clams, oysters and caviar service

“This isn’t just oysters on the half shell or shrimp cocktail,” says Levin. “We’ll invest in items like uni; but it will be ultra fresh and offered in limited supply. There will be things that we’ll have all the time and other things, like razor clams, that appear on the menu in season.”

As for beverages, 1033 will have a wine list that’s specifically curated around the menu offerings for the season. Levin says he foresees a list showcasing about 30 bottles of wine, all of which are priced for consumption. Some will be available by the glass. There will also be a small selection of batched bottled cocktails (think Manhattan, martini) which fit the mood of the space.

In addition to its 14-top bar, the restaurant will also feature one two-top table (which can be reserved for dinner service), along with window-side bar rails to accommodate 1033’s daily raw bar happy hour (which will take place prior to dinner service). Unlike dinner, which will be reservation-only, happy hour will be a more casual drop-in affair featuring bites from the raw bar and a selection of beverages, including sparkling wine.

Rendering of 1033 by THREE SIXTY
Rendering of 1033 by THREE SIXTY

Everyone is welcome

Levin says the offerings at 1033 will be refined, but the overall mood of the space will reflect the same mantra and culture upon which 2A Wine Merchants was founded.

“I want people in hoodies and people in Hugo Boss,” says Levin. “I don’t want to be a place where people have to question how they need to look. We want it to be a place where anyone can show up and not feel out of place.”

Along a similar vein, Levin says they’re admittedly going for a concept that will shake things up a bit in Milwaukee, giving locals a taste of the cozy laser-focused concepts common in larger urban markets.

“1033 is meant to be comfortably confusing.” he says. “I don’t think people will immediately understand how we can make this work,” says Levin. “But we’re a hospitality group that aspires to excel in the creation of truly intimate experiences.”

Once open, Levin anticipates 1033 will keep hours Wednesday through Saturday with happy hour at 3 p.m. and dinner reservations available at 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.