The wait has been long. But Alphonso’s The Original is back. In fact, the West Allis pizza spot has officially reopened at its new location at 9130 W. Greenfield Ave.
The last few years have been a wild ride for Tim Szuta, owner of Alphonso’s the Original. He’s been in the driver’s seat of a struggling business. He’s ridden the highs (and lows) of creating internet famous over-the-top, big-as-your-forearm mozzarella sticks. He’s hung onto hope despite surviving for over a year without a pizza oven. In fact, the ups and downs he’s seen could well have been enough to make him give up on running a successful pizza restaurant.
But Szuta is fueled by a different sort of energy. It’s a passion powered by the smiles on the faces of happy customers, the satisfaction of contributing to his local community and his rock solid determination to pay homage to Alphonso, a gentleman who changed his life forever. [Read more of Szuta’s unforgettable story here].
And that’s what makes the reopening of Alphonso’s The Original a reason to celebrate.
Over two years in the making
Szuta, who purchased the property on 91st and Greenfield in 2019, has been working hard for the past two years to get it up and running. But he says he’d never have been able to do so without the help of family, friends and countless community members who helped him bring his dream to fruition.
“People have been so supportive,” says Szuta, “And without their help none of this would have been possible. My brother has spent countless hours helping me during the renovation. The City of West Allis has been amazing. And so many random people have offered their help. Even my carpenter, who must have logged hundreds of hours assisting me with the build-out, only charged me for a fraction of the total cost because he wanted to support me. I’m so grateful.”
Szuta says there’s still more in store for the new pizza shop, including a mural which will be painted on the west side of the building by a local artist. Most of the design is under wraps, but Szuta says it will include a cartoon depiction which pays homage to the story that started it all (including artistic representation of Szuta, Alphonso and both the 1969 Z28 Camaro and 1968 Chevelle which Alphonso left him when he passed away).
On the menu
Head over to the new pizzeria and you’ll find a menu of toasted sandwiches piled high with ingredients like salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage and cheese), pizzas with names like the Gremlin (spinach, mushrooms, bacon, tomato); the Roadrunner (BBQ chicken, onion, bacon), the Heavy Chevy (pretty much everything on the menu) and the Cutlas Supreme (sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives, pepperoni).
You’ll also find a brand new creation, the Dillorean, topped with crisp dill pickles, creamy garlic ranch, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh dill sprigs. And yes, all pizzas can be made with your choice of crusts including signature cracker crust, the super bee (honey and red pepper flakes), double dough and the evil knievel (scorpion peppers and honey).
You can still order up the Big Alzone, Alphonso’s over-the-top Fuel Injected garlic bread, and (new) jalapeno poppers. And yes, you can still get those oh-so-Wisconsin-sized mozzarella sticks (AKA Lighning Rods).
But pop in to pick up your lunch or dinner and you’ll also find a storefront that’s filled with decades of pristine paraphernalia collected by a kid who grew up in the 1980s. And this is just a sampling of what you’ll see when you go.
There’s a South Park pinball machine and a Classic-cade machine with retro games to play. But there’s also a well-preserved original Nintendo set with which guests can challenge themselves to beat Mike Tyson Punch Out. Play it and win and you’ll get an Alphonso’s appetizer free of charge.
So many stickers!
Szuta's collection of stickers (and trading cards), which is displayed on the splatter guard in front of the kitchen, ranges from "Fat Albert," "Inspector Gadget" and "Fraggle Rock" to Care Bears, Beevis and Butthead, Mr. Yuck and the Garbage Pail Kids...
A tribute to family
From childhood photos to family history, you'll find an entire wall dedicated to Szuta's lineage.
By the power of Gray Skull
He-Man, Cringer, Skelator, Orka, Teela and Evil-Lyn... they're all there.
You'll also find an entire case of WF Wrestler action figures.
E.T. phone home
The classic film turned 40 years old this year. Now who feels old?
A Gremlin wall
An entire half-wall of the counter is dedicated to the Gremlin, a car manufactured in Wisconsin until 1978. You’ll find photos, toys, stickers and even the front grill from a 1975 Gremlin. It’s all dedicated to Szuta’s grandfather, who spent his career working for American Motors.
There are also bittersweet memories, including a drum set that reminds Szuta of a friend who, before he passed away recently, inspired him to take up playing drums.
There’s also a brick and a t-shirt from Bob’s Bait Shop in West Allis, one of the few remaining tackle shops in the area. The building was torn down in 2017 after the owner (Bob) passed away. Bob had been a big supporter of Alphonso’s, so – in order to preserve his memory – Szuta managed to recover one of the bricks from the building before it was fully demolished.
What 80s kid doesn’t remember this?
Szuta says that everything on the walls of the pizzeria is a reminder of happy times, and he hopes that seeing the paraphernalia brings back memories for other 80s kids, brings smiles to their children’s faces and reminds folks that the world is a fun, magical place.
We’re fairly sure that Szuta is onto something.
We’re also pretty sure that if Alphonso could see the pizzeria that’s been built in his memory, he would be pretty darned proud.
Before you go
First, keep in mind that it’s been a while since Alphonso’s has pumped out pizzas. So when you visit, please be patient, tip well and give the staff a liberal dose of grace. They’re working hard to bring you the pizza you have missed.
Currently, Alphonso’s is open for carry-out only. Delivery is expected to be added in the coming weeks. And there is potential for a few tables to be added for dine-in service in the future. Guests can also look forward to a grand opening celebration in late July or early August, complete with a giant mozzarella stick cutting and live music from Szuta’s band All Very Tall. Keep your eye on Alphonso’s The Original’s Facebook page for details.
Alphonso’s is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The pizzeria is closed on Sundays, except during football season when they will be open for business on game days.
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.