By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Apr 29, 2024 at 11:08 AM

Following a private soft opening this weekend, Chef Ramses Alvarez will be opening the doors of Brisa Do Mar, 509 E. Erie St., to the public on Thursday, May 2 beginning at 11 a.m.

The new eatery will take full advantage of the location's sunswept dining room, riverfront patio, wood-fired oven and spacious kitchen to produce a dining experience that conjures Mediterranean climes including France, Spain and Portugal.

Brisa Do MarX

Alvarez, who will operate the concept alongside his partner Shannon Rowell, says that the vision for Brisa Do Mar represents the culmination of his culinary career, the couples’ travels in Europe and their love for both music and art. For Alvarez, the Mediterranean concept also reflects his heritage with roots in both Mexico and Portugal.


“The coast of Portugal is just breathtaking,” he says, “And the first thing you notice is the sea breeze off of the coast. Our hope is to recreate a bit of that here at the restaurant, where we have a beautiful view of the water.”

The experience

While the footprint left from Riverfront Pizza still remains, guests who walk into Brisa Do Mar are likely to notice changes to the overall aesthetic.

The restaurant’s walls been repainted a calming sage green with matching new upholstery applied to the booths. New lighting fixtures are also visible above both the bar and dining room.

Seating areaX

But likely most notable is the artwork that decorates the walls. Some – including the historical photographs of Milwaukee – are part of building owner Peter Renner’s collection. Others, Alvarez says, were curated specifically for the restaurant to represent both its Mediterranean theme and the history of the Old World.

That includes the modernized portraits of Persephone created by Dima at CityNeon. The portraits, inlaid with neon, tell the story of her abduction by Hades.  But they also represent her dual role as goddess of both spring and the underworld.

Persephone by CityNeonX

As the story goes, her annual return to the earth in spring is marked by flowering meadows and the sudden growth of the new grain. Conversely, her return to the underworld accompanies the death of plants and the cessation of growth.

Persephone by CityNeonX

Modern digital art is also on display above the bar, depicted on six television screens which can also be used to broadcast sporting events at the restaurant.

The bar itself will showcase a varied selection of beer, including domestic, craft and imports, along with a curated list of red and white wines.  Cocktails will include Mediterranean-inspired selections like red sangria and a Mediterranean sour, along with riffs on classics including the Margarita, Manhattan, Negroni and Old Fashioned. 

Bar at Brisa Do MarX

The performing arts will also be represented in the space, with weekend dinners bringing live music to the restaurant. Alvarez says the type of music is likely to vary. It could mean an evening with members of the Chicago Lyric Opera or an acoustic set from a local musician.

“It’s about the ambiance, the food and the service,” says Alvarez. “I’ve spent many years cooking in this city, and I’ve had the opportunity to cook with many notable chefs. The best restaurants deliver on all of those levels. We are here to serve the community, to feed the community. And I’m excited to be able to do that for our guests.”

On the menu

On the menu at Brisa Do Mar, guests will find a menu filled with Mediterranean-inspired dishes, from snacks like wood-roasted prawns, hand-breaded calamari, fried eggplant chips, garlic bread and bruschetta (priced $6-$20).

Salads will include staples like caprese and Caesar, along with an arugula salad with seared turbo seasoned with fennel pollen and served with avocado, strawberries, asparagus and grapefruit vinaigrette ($21). Sandwiches will include Chicken Parmesan sandwich with fries ($13), plus selections like a Sicilian Burger featuring a half-pound brisket blend patty, wild mushrooms, asparagus and porcini aioli ($18.50).

Pasta dishes will run the gamut from slow-simmered bolognese served with bucatini ($20) to shrimp diavolo featuring shrimp, chicken and chorizo in a crushed red pepper cream sauce over penne ($24).

Meanwhile, entrees will feature market selections like herb-crusted whole fish served with seasonal vegetables; and a featured cut of bone-in dry aged beef (selections may include cuts like Tomahawk steak, cowboy-cut ribeye, bone-in tenderloin or New York Strip)will be served with mashed potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms and black garlic beurre blanc.

Half-chickens marinated with herbs de provence will be served with roasted potatoes and oven dried tomatoes ($30), while confited pork belly will be served alongside potato souffle, asparagus, mushrooms and ragu ($25).

Wood-fired ovenX

Guests will also be able to order two styles of pizza, each made with its own distinctive dough.

Neapolitan-style pies will feature 9” pies cooked in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven with toppings like La Vert (pesto, fontina, zucchini, hazelnuts, olive oil and edible flowers); Bianca (mozzarella, pecorino, parmesan and blue cheeses); and Da Brisa (Bianca Napolitano tomato sauce, shrimp, kalamata olives, soppressata, basil and olive oil).  Pricing will be $18-$20 each.

New York style pies will be prepared in the restaurant’s brick ovens. They will be available in small, medium or large sizes with toppings like Di Parma (prosciutto de parma, parmesan, fontina, bianco di napoli, tomato ragu and basil); Deluxe (red sauce, mozzarella, sausage, mushroom, onion, green pepper, black olive); or Blanco (garlic, romano, mozzarella, ricotta, fresh parsley). Pricing will range between $12-$13 for small; $21-$25 for medium; or $24-$28 for large).

Guests can view the full menu online.

Dining room facing riverX

More to come

Moving forward, Alvarez says they are excited to become more involved in the community surrounding their new restaurant.

“We hope to develop partnerships with other organizations in the Third Ward, like MIAD,” says Alvarez. “We’re excited to be a part of the local community, to donate to fundraisers and assist in making the neighborhood and city a better place to live.”

As Brisa Do Mar establishes its stride,  guests can also look forward to the introduction of brunch service on weekends. Follow Brisa Do Mare on Facebook for updates!

Beginning May 2, Brisa Do Mar will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

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.