By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 10, 2011 at 5:33 AM

For the fifth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2011."

In a few days "Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper" opens at Milwaukee Art Museum and runs through Jan. 8, 2012.

But you can get an early taste of Impressionism already at the museum's Cafe Calatrava, which recently unveiled new entrees inspired by the show.

Josh Stefanko, who stepped into the role of executive chef at Cafe Calatrava in March, says more than anything, the dishes are inspired by the Impressionists' use of color.

"My inspiration for this menu was based partially on artistic and historical perspectives, but color and flavor trumped all in our final decisions," he says.

"Virtually all of the works in this collection are French – only one is from Italy. My first chef was a French-trained saucier and rotisseure, so it was very natural for me to incorporate some twists on my favorite French classics.

"I used my knowledge of French cuisine and dear love for painters such as Van Gogh and Monet to put together a menu with as many beautiful, natural and healthy dishes as possible. I'd love for visitors to feel as though they've had a chance to step back through time a little to some cozy French bistro surrounded by the arts and by solid chefs practicing their craft."

His basil gnocchi, which I sampled last week, fits the bill. The white gnocchi are dolloped with color thanks to the addition of red peppers, green basil and sage, brown mushrooms and yellow butternut squash.

"The gnocchi dish, for example, is sautéed in a sage and brown butter sauce to impart a lovely nuttiness to both the dumplings and the butternut squash," says Stefanko.

"The French have always been masters of incorporating interesting ingredients and techniques from other cultures into their national milieu, and this sautéed gnocchi dish is a perfect example of something that was Italian becoming French. This dish also pleases the eye with an array of red, orange, brown and green which reminds me vividly of an autumn tree in full color."

Other sections of the menu have changed, too, but don't worry, says Stefanko, many favorites are still available.

"The 'Bang Bang' chicken salad, for example, because of its healthfulness and popularity – and great color scheme – it was a very simple decision to carry it over to the current menu," he says.

'Tis the season of the fall menu and a number of restaurants are currently unveiling new ones. Here are a few...

The Capital Grille, 310 W. Wisconsin Ave., has autumn-ized its popular $15 "Plates" lunch menu. The three-course, fixed-price menu was launched earlier in the year and some of the more summery items – like a watermelon salad and a mahi mahi sandwich – have been replaced.

The new items are a porcini bisque, a "Knife and Fork BLT" and roasted butternut squash with cranberry chutney.

"Our new Knife and Fork BLT adds a signature twist to this classic sandwich favorite," said Chef Michael Meinzer. 

The sandwich layers bacon, Grana Padano and heirloom tomatoes and lettuce and has a black pepper and chive aioli.

I'm partial to the truffle fries and the lobster roll on "Plates" menu – which have survived the changes – but the new dishes are perfect now that the cool is upon us.

Il Mito Enoteca, 6913 W. North Ave., in Wauwatosa has launched new seasonal lunch, dinner and gluten-free menus, all of which you can find on the website.

Chef Michael Feker says the new menus were written to make the best use of what is available locally during the long Wisconsin winter.

"When you live in Wisconsin you are faced with limited fresh, local ingredients through the winter months," says Feker.

"With flavor as a backbone, you can take this narrow range of ingredients and use them in diverse ways. When you slow-cook root vegetables their flavors deepen and become so rich it can be like a burst of spring on the snowiest day."

Being a gnocchi fan, I have to get over and try the gnocchi con polpettine di vitello, with lemon scented veal meatballs, roasted broccolini and caramelized onions in a creamy roasted garlic sauce.

Milwaukee's first brewpub, Water Street Brewery, is prepping a new menu, to launch at its locations in honor of the 25th anniversary of the first brewpub, at 1101 N. Water St.

According to the restaurants' Tina Lukowitz, the new menu will be bigger and will feature more locally grown ingredients and more small plates, along with a range of new dinner specials.

Certainly the new menus are being written with Bartolotta's Rumpus Room, scheduled to open soon across the street from Water Street Brewery, in mind, too.

Umami Moto, 718 N. Milwaukee St., also has a new dinner menu and SURG Restaurant Group's Eli Sampon says three more of its eateries will launch new menus this month, too.

The new Umami menu, created by incoming chef Justin Carlisle, has a larger selection of sushi and sashimi, daily oyster selections and more.

Also, Umami Moto's summer lunch hours ended on Sept. 30. The restaurant is open for dinner from 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closes at 10 p.m. each of those days except Friday and Saturday, when it serves until 11.

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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.