By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Dec 15, 2008 at 8:29 AM Photography: Whitney Teska

A roaring fire, holiday decorations, highballs and a heaping plate of barbecued baby back ribs and pasta...

Maybe the ribs and pasta may not dovetail with your ideal image of a holiday meal, but regardless of what you order at Pitch's Lounge and Restaurant, 1801 N. Humboldt Ave., wintertime food never felt so comfortable and good.

Don't expect fancy frills at the lounge and restaurant, which attracts a regular bar crowd and splits the dining room between smokers and non, but much like at Pitch's sister restaurant, Miss Katie's Diner, you'll find solid, affordable and filling meals with reliable presentation, flavor and service.

Pitch's demographics skew a bit older in the dining room, perhaps not surprising since the restaurant's doors have been open since 1942. Pitch's long ago found a place in my heart somewhere between my grandmother's kitchen, a classic diner and a supper club, and two recent dinner visits did not disappoint.

Appetizer selections offer standard bar fare meets Italian fare, which plays well in the somewhat smoky and happily boisterous lounge (separate from the dining area, which remains quite peaceful). We sampled a combo plate ($7.95), humongous in size, and layered with mozzarella sticks, eggplant strips and onion strings. The eggplant strips were slightly tough, but the mozzarella sticks were perfectly gooey and hot upon arrival. Potato skins ($6.50) were of the homemade variety and came crisp and brimming with cheddar cheese and bacon pieces-an unhealthy delight.

Ribs are an option with just about every entrée selection, and all dinners come with soup or salad, soft Italian bread and breadsticks, and a side of potato (Pitch's "famous" hash browns, French fries, baked potato) or pasta with marinara. A recent Sunday special of ribs and bluegill ($17.95) paired Pitch's tender ribs, which are slathered in barbecue sauce rather than rubbed or smoked, with pan fried blue gill and their signature onion and potato cast-iron skillet hash browns.

The fish was fresh and crisp and a nice treat since blue gill is one of the historically rare fish finds in Milwaukee, and the hash browns, are a greasy, guilty pleasure. A trio combo dinner ($18.95) was likely enough to really feed a trio, with a Sicilian steak flanked with a half rack of ribs and 2 hand-breaded shrimp that stole the show.

Pitch's house favorite pan-fried chicken ($14.95) was also an easy winner. The menu warns of the 25 minute preparation time, but it's worth the wait. The chicken is slowly pan fried in olive oil for a unique broasted meets fried flavor that succeeds in being juicy without being oily.

Dinner at Pitch's is not complete without a basic ice cream sundae or a helping of spumoni ($4.50), which layers rum flavored ice cream with pistachio, chocolate, strawberry, and a whipped cream center.

Perhaps the best part of Pitch's is the price point. With drinks, appetizers, entrées and dessert, we left on both visits with a tab for two under $65 and enough food for a lunch or possibly two, making Pitch's a great place for a meal if you're pinching holiday pennies but still trying to spread some cheer.


Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to