Italian has returned to Brady Street.
Dorsia, a modern Italian eatery owned by Jeno and Lorenzo Cataldo, is gearing up to open to the public on Tuesday, May 2, at 1307 E. Brady St., in the former home of Mimma's.
During the restaurant’s soft opening this past weekend, the excitement was palpable in the bustling dining room as eager diners sipped glasses of wine and sampled a variety of menu items, most priced under $20.
And while menu items are somewhat reminiscent of those served in other low-key Sicilian-inspired spots around the city, it's Dorsia's atmosphere that sets it apart. The vibe begins with its bright interior featuring modern decor, the long bar with its gold accents and flatscreen televisions, which on our visit were broadcasting a variety of sports coverage. And it's underscored by lively, upbeat music, high energy waitstaff and playful art.
Among the antipasti served up by Dorsia chef Scott Klenke are arancini served with pomodoro sauce and parmesan ($7), fried eggplant ($8), oysters on the half shell ($13) and fried calamari with fennel, red pepper, basil, mint, pomodoro sauce and Meyer lemon aioli ($13).
There is also burrata served atop fig mostarda with black sea salt, basil microgreens and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and 25-year balsamic vinegar ($12).
Meanwhile, an eye-catching plate of crudo features thinly sliced scallops, hamachi, heirloom sweet peppers, cucumber, citrus and Sicilian olive oil ($15).
Among shareable items are cheese and charcuterie boards, which feature a selection of artisan cheeses and salumi with accompaniments like preserves, honeycomb, crostini, grissini and pickled vegetables ($14-26).
There are also generously sized thin-crust flatbreads, including one topped with two-year prosciutto, fig mostarda, shards of asparagus along with taleggio and ricotta cheeses and balsamic vinegar for $15.
Salads include a chopped salad with hazelnut crusted goat cheese, butter lettuce, watercress and romaine, along with an apple guafrette, sous vide hen yolk, fennel and dijon vinaigrette ($14). There’s also a take on Caesar salad ($9), a house salad ($6) and artichoke salad (pictured) with grilled radicchio, mache, frisee, toasted walnuts and pecorino romano tossed in a light champagne vinaigrette ($14).
Among housemade pasta dishes, diners will find a variety of options available in both whole and half portions. Indecisive diners also have the option of ordering a pasta "flight" with three (or more) smaller portions.
Pasta choices include house-made pappardelle topped with a bolognese sauce made from short ribs, beef, Berkshire pork, heirloom carrots and grana padano ($8/18); sweet potato gnocchi with rapini, artichokes, romanesco, brown butter, parmesan and toasted walnuts ($8/17); and duck carbonara with house-made linguini, duck confit, spring peas, cream, guanciale and pecorino romano ($9/19).
The "Classico" features linguine tossed with pomodoro sauce, pecorino and basil along with one of the restaurant’s signature meatballs made from beef, pork and veal ($7/16).
Campanelle is served up with zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, romanesco, burrata and lemon basil tossed with ramp and pistachio pesto ($8/17).
Meanwhile, al dente bucatini is tossed with pomodoro sauce, guanciale and parmesan and garnished with basil ($6/13).
Additional entrees include veal spiedini with saffron risotto, wilted spinach, demi sec tomatoes and grana padano and served with veal demi-glace ($19); brodetto featuring scallops, prawns, hamachi, clams, zucchini, fennel, pomodoro broth, roasted red pepper agrodolce and Sicilian olive oil ($22); short ribs with brown butter polenta, rapini, heirloom carrots, leeks and borolo demi-glace ($26); and roasted half-chicken with fingerling potatoes, romanesco, cippolini onions and Meyer lemon jus.
Dorsia’s hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to close. Beginning May 6, the restaurant will also offer brunch service on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and all day on Sunday.
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.