By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Oct 29, 2008 at 8:36 AM Photography: Julie Lawrence

October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

Tom Siever started working at the original Balistreri’s in Wauwatosa 33 years ago as a cook and dishwasher. Today, Siever manages the two family-owned restaurants, Balistreri’s Italian American Ristorante,  812 N. 68th St., and Balistreri’s Bluemound Inn, 6501 W. Bluemound Rd.

The 68th Street location opened 40 years ago. In the mid-'90s, owner Jim Balistreri purchased the Bluemound Inn, gave the and opened his second location after giving the place a facelift.

The two restaurants feature the same legendary, thin-crust pizza that critics and consumers have hailed as the city’s best. Both locations offer pizzas with standard toppings like sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onions and anchovies, but the Bluemound Inn takes the classic pies a step further, offering gourmet pizzas like the forthcoming white pizza, featuring goat, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, button mushrooms and truffle oil.

The Wauwatosa location is adorned with dark wood and extremely family-focused, with budget-sensitive prices and no bar. (Alcoholic beverages are available, but they are served at the table.) The Bluemound location, on the other hand, is brighter, features a full, sit-down bar and, at times, gets a more spirited crowd.

Both restaurants are unpretentious with a timeless feel and cozy environment. Additionally, both places get insanely busy, especially on weekends.

"We do our best to get everyone seated as soon as possible," says Siever.

Other than the crackery-crust pizza, both Balistreri restaurants feature appetizers -- including their famous eggplant -- as well as a mix of chicken, veal, seafood and steak entrees, sandwiches, salads, sups, desserts and daily specials. Prices range from $5 to $30.

Siever says the friendliness of the staff is a large part of the Balistreri’s success, along with consistently high quality ingredients.

"After 33 years, I still love the pizza," he says. "I don't eat it every day, but I still eat a few slices two or three times a week."

Balistreri’s is one of four restaurants competing in the OnMilwaukee.com "Slice of Milwaukee" pizza contest. The contest runs during the month of October, which is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com.

The contest challenges Zaffiro's, Classic Slice, Pizza Man and Balistreri's to create a "Milwaukee" pizza. The editors of OnMilwaukee.com will sample the four pizzas, pick the winner and announce it in an article -- which will feature all four of the recipes -- on Oct. 30. The pizzas are judged on taste, presentation, creativity and "Milwaukee-ness."

Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.

As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.

She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that. 

Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.

Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.

In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!

When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.