By Rick Rodriguez Special to Published Sep 27, 2012 at 11:41 AM

I honestly cannot remember how or when I heard about Hup's Pizza, 5400 W. Hampton Ave., but the name kept popping up online and among a few friends, so I thought it was time to try it.  

I called in my order, which was a challenge. I don't know if it was the phone or the guy on the other end, but everything he said was mumbled, so I had to ask him to repeat everything. Eventually, I ordered my usual sausage and pepperoni pie.

When I arrived, the building looked a little smaller than I expected from the picture I saw online. It was about the size of my garage, painted in green and red. It certainly had a historic look to it. I later learned from the staff that Hup's Pizza has been in business for 45 years, and I'm guessing they've been in the same building.

I entered the lobby and was surprised at how small it was, but I guess you don't need much space for carry-out orders. It must have been 6 feet by 6 feet. There were two of us in the lobby, and it felt crowded.

There was a menu board on the wall next to the pick-up window. The menu was hand-written and listed the pizza sizes and prices by number of toppings, along with a few other items such as garlic bread and cheese bread. The window was about 12 inches by 18 inches in the middle of the wall. There were no doors in the lobby that led to the kitchen. The employees entered through a back door.

I walked up to the window and looked to the right into the kitchen to try and make eye contact with one of the employees to let them know I was there. A young man greeted me and told me my pizza would be up in a couple of minutes. I slid my payment under the window and waited patiently. So far, this was an interesting experience.

Eventually I arrived home ready to eat my pizza. I appreciated that it was wrapped in two pizza bags to help protect my car and clothes from stains.

The first thing I noticed was that the toppings were loaded on. There was so much pepperoni, it almost completely covered the thick layer of cheese. The chunks of Italian sausage were also plentiful. Hup's clearly does not skimp on toppings.

The crust was very thin throughout. It was crispy around the outer edge and softer toward the center. Slices were cut in squares of various sizes. The sauce had a subtle spiciness to it, but the seasoning created a great flavor. (Well done, Hup's!)

Hup's pizzas are thin crust, and come in 12-inch or 14-inch sizes with prices starting at $10.99. There weren't any specialty pizzas listed, and the menu was simple. Low overhead has proven to be a good strategy for a successful business. I'm sure this also allows Hup's to focus on what they do best.

The flavorful sauce and abundance of toppings certainly make Hup's worthy of another visit someday, and maybe I'll get to meet the owner, Bobby Rogers. I'd love to learn about the history of Hup's and its recipes, as well as how many generations of family have been involved.

Unfortunately, he was not in the day of my visit, nor another day that I called and asked for him. All I was able to get was his name. With 45 years in business, there has to be a great story, or two, to share.

Rick Rodriguez Special to
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and I plan to stay in Milwaukee forever. I'm the oldest of three children and grew up in the Riverwest neighborhood. My family still lives in the same Riverwest house since 1971.

I graduated from Rufus King High School and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a business degree.

My true passion for Milwaukee probably started after I joined the Young Professionals of Milwaukee (now called FUEL Milwaukee) which just celebrated its one year anniversary at the time. The events that I attended, and sometimes organized, really opened my eyes to what Milwaukee had to offer, as well as its potential for the future. So for the past, present, and future FUEL Milwaukee corporate sponsors out there, that organization does produce results (editorial)!

I love all of the Milwaukee Sports teams, professional and amateur. I love the Milwaukee arts scene and all of the festivals. I love that you can find a free concert in the summer just about every day of the week. I love the various neighborhoods around the Milwaukee area and the unique characteristics that they offer. I love the people who take the time to tell us about those unique characteristics. I have to hold my breath and count to ten when someone tells me that there is nothing to do in Milwaukee. Then I prove them wrong.

Most of all, I love the Milwaukee dining scene. I love how it continues to evolve with modern dishes and new trends while the classic restaurants continue to remind us that great food doesn't have to be "fancy schmancy." However, I also love the chefs that create the "fancy schmancy" dishes and continue to challenge themselves and Milwaukee diners with dishes we've never seen before.

Our media provides attention to the new restaurants, which is great, but I don't like seeing the older great restaurants close their doors (Don Quijote, African Hut) because they've been forgotten, so I try to do my part to let Milwaukeeans know that they're still out there, too. I do that through social media, online reviews, and a dinner club I run for my friends, where we visit restaurants they haven't heard of before or try ethnic cuisine they haven't had before.

My dream is that one day I can mention a great experience in Milwaukee and not have someone respond with "have you been to Chicago?" I don't like those people very much.