By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 06, 2006 at 5:36 AM
If for no other reason than appeasing your curiosity, there's a good chance that, if only once, you're going to order a slice of the "mac and cheese" pizza at Bay View's new Classic Slice (2797 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.).

Perhaps it'll be the more traditional slices of veggie or Italian sausage that keep you coming back, but there is something about adding a favorite like cheesy noodles to an already beloved food item like pizza that is way too tempting to pass up.

"It's kind of amazing," says Marisa Lange, owner of the pizza-by-the-slice joint that is slated to open just shy of the holidays this year. "You wouldn't really expect (mac and cheese pizza) to work, but it really does. It's going to be a thin layer of little thumbnail pasta and it'll have mushrooms and walnuts."  The building Lange is currently renovating is the long-dormant former Mexican restaurant, TNT, on the corner of KK and California St.

With a love of both traveling and really good pizza, Lange has made it a point to check out what other cities have to offer in the way of a good pie and says she found her mac and cheese inspiration at a place called Ian's in Madison.

"Mine is different from theirs," she says. "I wanted to make it more of a designer mac and cheese, as opposed to, say, Kraft."

And like Ian's, Classic Slice offers up a few other usual pizza options -- octopus and creamed spinach, to name a few -- that round out the specialty section of the 12-pizza menu. The other two sections of the pizza menu are divided up into traditional -- offering a standard sauce and cheese base with the usual toppings available for adding and subtracting (a vegan option is also listed in this category) -- and Italian classics, such as the margarita (fresh mozzarella and basil), a pesto and pine nut pie and one with fennel sausage and fresh tomato sauce.

The slices -- we're talking huge, two-handers that require folding before consumption -- are priced between $3 and $5.50, with entire 18-inch pies going for between $18 and $25.

When it opens, Classic Slice will also offer salads and desserts, as well as beverages, including beer and wine in a very casual, counter-service environment, much like one you'd find in a coffee shop.

"I want it to be a nice community hang out," she says. "I want it to be very Milwaukee -- comfortable, easy, but I also want it to be a little New York style, a little kitschy."

Her logo, two winged slices of pizza carrying a banner sporting her restaurant's name, is obviously a nod to old sailor's tattoos and achieves precisely the artistic and laid-back feel she hopes Classic Slice conveys.

"I think tattoos are a very big part of Milwaukee culture. It'll be kind of like a tattoo shop that has pizza -- and it'll be smoke-free."

Get ready Milwaukee, we're going to be a "grab-a-slice" town in no time.
Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”