By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 14, 2006 at 9:27 AM
Last night at The Capital Grille was the first time a waiter shook my hand at the end of a meal. But it didn't really seem all that weird since Luis had been present for much of the meal.

His friendly, open demeanor and ready smile created an immediate rapport and if The Capital Grille is smart, it'll tap Luis' skills to train new waitstaff.

The new Downtown steak house, 310 W. Wisconsin Ave., favors hands-on service with waitstaff explaining the dishes in detail and information on ingredients and preparation isn't even on the menu, which just lists the names of dishes. It's doting and it leads to a lot of contact between client and waitstaff, so the latter had darn well better be good at it or the service will feel oppressive and intrusive.

However, when Luis waited for my wife to take the first bite of her salad so she could give it a thumbs up or thumbs down, it could have been awkward, but it wasn't. Instead it was a moment of lightness and we all laughed.

The rapport works for the customer, who has a good time and can get more detailed information about the dinner options. But it also helps the restaurant get feedback in a good natured way.

For example, instead of going home grumbling about the lack of an Italian red wine available by the glass, I felt like I could convey my disappointment in a light-hearted way and Luis could take that information to the sommelier (who should get a barbera on that list asap!). In the meantime, I got an Argentine malbec, enjoyed it, and went home happy.

The food was good -- tasty, fresh, well-presented, nice portions -- and the decor was pleasant, but there's a lot of restaurants that can boast about those things. With restaurant service perhaps at an all time low, there was one thing that really made our dinner enjoyable and it was Luis.

Note: When your server at The Capital Grille tells you the side dishes are large portions, trust them. They are LARGE portions. The onion strings/cottage fries plate will be plenty for four diners!

A full review of The Capital Grille will appear in the dining section in two weeks.
Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.