By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 19, 2021 at 11:01 AM

There’s something new (and a little wild) coming to a long vacant property at 2936 S. 13th St. That's just down the street from Taqueria Arandas in the Polonia neighborhood on Miwaukee’s South Side.

Amorsito is the name of the new bar and restaurant, which aims to offer a family friendly environment for games, neon cocktails (and mocktails) and a diverse menu which showcases Latin cuisines, along with options like halal gyros and all-day breakfast.

Behind the concept, which could open as soon as mid-September, are industry veterans Ricardo Perez and Daniel Casas, who’ve envisioned a dual purpose concept that caters to families with children, as well as a later evening crowd with a chill, fun atmosphere. 

“Not everyone likes to go out and just drink,” says Perez. “Some people love to play games. I love to beat people at Uno. So we’ve created a place where kids – of all ages – can find good food and something to enjoy.” 

Perez says the vision is not to create a traditional restaurant and bar where folks hang out and drink. No, in fact, the atmosphere at Amorsito will display no liquor or beer signs. But it will offer candy-infused frozen drinks and a menu of items on which Perez says there will be “something for everyone.”

Ricardo Perez
Ricardo Perez at Amorsito

It all started in the Dominican Republic

Perez says he got his start in the restaurant industry at age 15 when he started off with a job at McDonald’s. After working his way up, he moved to IHOP, where he eventually managed the location on Miller Parkway. Years later, a job with iPic led Perez to work in New York, where he says he gleaned the experience needed to open his own restaurant. 

In fact, Perez says, he opened his first venue in the Dominican Republic, a location where he moved after vacationing there for many years.

“They didn’t really have a lot of American food,” he says, “So my goal was to introduce something that really melded the cultures.”

From there, Amorsito was born.

Perez says things became difficult starting in January, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so he decided to come home and open a similar concept in Milwaukee. To do so, he partnered with Casas, one of his closest friends, and began working to recreate the experience on 13th Street.

Art on walls
Art on walls

The Amorsito experience

The name Amorsito (a Spanish term of endearment which can be translated as “sweetie”) describes the restaurant from end to end, says Perez. “We prepare, we entertain and we cook with love,” he says, noting that hospitality will be at the fore of the new concept.

In addition to more traditional servers, Perez says that Amorsito will also employ “guest ambassadors,” who will be in charge of orienting guests to the establishment and making sure they have a great time.

And a bit of orientation is likely needed, since the venue will feature a variety of experiences for guests, from a game room in back that will feature video games and board games (everything from Uno to Candyland and Twister), along with a selfie studio decorated with various background patterns, props and black light for effect.

In addition to games, there will be activities for folks of all ages, including painting activities for kids, led by Perez’s sister Cirse and a kids’ happy hour featuring build-your-own candy mocktails and friendly VS. battles during which kids can win fun age-appropriate prizes for their performances.

Adults can also get in on the fun with karaoke (or lip-syncing for non-singers) for adults after 10 p.m.

“Really, the difference between the day and night crowd won’t be that dramatic. We’ll just transition from kids activities to more adult-centered evening activities like glow-in-the-dark bingo.”

Stage at Amorsito
Stage at Amorsito

On the menu

Amorsito’s substantial menu features a number of cuisines including Mexican, Dominican and Puerto Rican fare as well as Jamaican and Halal dishes.

“There are so many Latino cuisines in this area,” notes Perez “But we wanted to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for everyone, so we want the menu to reflect that.”  

That means Mexican fare – including flautas, tacos and chiles rellenos – made with recipes from Perez’s mother and dishes from his time in the Dominican Republic, including locrio (Dominican style rice with seasonings and ribs) and Dominican style meatballs served over rice.  Puerto Rican fare will include pastelitos and empanadas along with classic dishes like arroz con gandules. Guests will also find Jamaican inspired dishes and gyros made with halal meats.

Breakfast, Perez says, will be served all day every day (beginning at noon) and will include American classics like brioche French toast, omelettes and avocado toast along with Mexican-inspired options.

There will also be specials like “Pantonio,” a waffle or pancake based sandwich named for Perez’s grandfather Antonio that’s filled with cheese, tomatoes, sausage bacon and ham and served with maple syrup and butter. 

But it might be the playful frozen beverages that bring all the kids to the yard.  Perez says that Amorsito will specialize in a variety of frozen candy-infused cocktails and mocktails.

Options will include the Cotton Candy Martini (made with unicorn juice, fruit punch, sweetened condensed milk and topped with cotton candy and unicorn whipped cream); the Dunkin’ Sour Patch, a riff on a Manhattan topped with Sour Patch Kids; the Dirty D-Boy (Bailey’s Irish Cream, vanilla, caramel and Milk Duds); and the Melon Medina (a melon daiquiri topped with watermelon and Sour Patch Kids and served with a watermelon candy straw).

Once open, Amorsito will offer dine-in, carry-out, delivery and catering, including off-premise birthday parties.  Hours are expected to be Monday through Saturday from noon to 3 a.m.  Amorsito will be closed on Sundays and holidays.

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.