By Rick Rodriguez Special to Published Aug 16, 2012 at 3:26 PM

I enjoy a great story as much as a great pizza, Alphonso's owners Corey Washington and Tim Szuta have both.

I discovered Alphonso's, 1119 S. 108th St., in West Allis,  thanks to a deal I purchased in January. I'd noticed a couple of different pizza places next to Tandoor on my visits there over the years, but I never got around to trying them until recently.

I walked in and saw a menu on the wall with the words "cracker crust." I was instantly optimistic for what was to come. Two guys in their 20s were behind the counter, one making pizzas and the other having just returned from a delivery. I eventually learned that these were the owners. I placed my order with Corey and watched him go to work.

While my pizza was baking I looked around the waiting area. A card table and chairs were just inside the store entrance and to the right. Above the table was a TV and next to the TV hung a boxing robe and boxing gloves. They belonged to Corey's grandfather.

Corey and Tim are big boxing fans, but also love for classic cars. The latter has significant meaning and a great story to the very existence of this pizzeria, but first let's get to the pizza!

It was difficult to watch my pizza come out of the oven and go into the box, knowing it would be at least 10 minutes before I could taste it. I hoped I wouldn't catch any red lights on the way home. I eventually arrived and it was go time. For me, there's just something special about opening the pizza box, looking inside and thinking "you're mine."

I picked up the first slice and was impressed by how heavy and sturdy it was. It seemed as if there were layers upon layers of cheese, below the toppings and above. Then I took the first bite, starting near the edge of the crust, and heard a loud crunch, similar to that of a thick Saltine cracker (yes).

Then I was hit by the "wow factor." That sauce! It was savory with a bit of sweetness, a delicious combination of seasoning. Combined with the thick layers of cheese and the sauce, I wouldn't have needed any other toppings to enjoy this pizza.

However, I don't eat cereal without milk, or burgers without fries, and I don't eat pizza without toppings. Fresh mushrooms, chunks of Italian sausage, and thin slices of pepperoni made this great pizza even better. How did two guys this young learn to make pizza like this? Ah, that's right – the story.

Alphonso's offers several pizza crust options: cracker crust, New York style, Super Bee (honey crust), Herbie (herb crust), Evel Knievel (ghost pepper crust – yes, ghost pepper), or you can order a stuffed pizza.

The menu also features calzones, specialty pizzas named after cars like the Cutlass Supreme (sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, green peppers and black olives), toasted sub sandwiches with boxing names like the Marciano Meatball and the Sugar Ray, and appetizers such as the Fuel Injected Garlic Bread, with garlic butter infused into the bread (this was some of the best garlic bread I've had anywhere).

You're probably sold on Alphonso's pizza now (did I mention it's veteran-owned?), but I also promised you a story. You want to know who Alphonso is, don't you? Below the glass covered counter, you will find the story of two boys who stumbled upon a 1968 Chevelle, owned by a special man that would change their lives, or if you can't wait to read it at the pizzeria, just click here.

Alphonso's, (414) 755-0341, is open Tuesday-Sunday, 4-10 p.m. Carry-out and delivery only (call for delivery area).

Rick Rodriguez Special to
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and I plan to stay in Milwaukee forever. I'm the oldest of three children and grew up in the Riverwest neighborhood. My family still lives in the same Riverwest house since 1971.

I graduated from Rufus King High School and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a business degree.

My true passion for Milwaukee probably started after I joined the Young Professionals of Milwaukee (now called FUEL Milwaukee) which just celebrated its one year anniversary at the time. The events that I attended, and sometimes organized, really opened my eyes to what Milwaukee had to offer, as well as its potential for the future. So for the past, present, and future FUEL Milwaukee corporate sponsors out there, that organization does produce results (editorial)!

I love all of the Milwaukee Sports teams, professional and amateur. I love the Milwaukee arts scene and all of the festivals. I love that you can find a free concert in the summer just about every day of the week. I love the various neighborhoods around the Milwaukee area and the unique characteristics that they offer. I love the people who take the time to tell us about those unique characteristics. I have to hold my breath and count to ten when someone tells me that there is nothing to do in Milwaukee. Then I prove them wrong.

Most of all, I love the Milwaukee dining scene. I love how it continues to evolve with modern dishes and new trends while the classic restaurants continue to remind us that great food doesn't have to be "fancy schmancy." However, I also love the chefs that create the "fancy schmancy" dishes and continue to challenge themselves and Milwaukee diners with dishes we've never seen before.

Our media provides attention to the new restaurants, which is great, but I don't like seeing the older great restaurants close their doors (Don Quijote, African Hut) because they've been forgotten, so I try to do my part to let Milwaukeeans know that they're still out there, too. I do that through social media, online reviews, and a dinner club I run for my friends, where we visit restaurants they haven't heard of before or try ethnic cuisine they haven't had before.

My dream is that one day I can mention a great experience in Milwaukee and not have someone respond with "have you been to Chicago?" I don't like those people very much.