In a forthcoming edition of Lake Effect, NPR's Dan Harmon and I discuss pizzerias -- what makes a good pizzeria, what makes a good pizza?
And for me, it's about personal taste to some degree. Some people like thick crust, some like thin, some loved stuffed pizzas (for me it depends on the day). Do you like canned or fresh mushrooms? What about the sauce-should it be bitter or sweet?
And do we aim traditional with a Margherita pizza with basil and slices of tomatoes, or skew more cosmopolitan with goat cheese and carmelized onions? Let's face it, there's a lot to be said on certain craving days for a basic cheese, sausage, mushroom and onion, especially when the sausage is chock full of fresh fennel seeds.
But one of my all time favorite pizzas is in my hometown of Wisconsin Rapids. There's not a lot in Wisconsin Rapids, so make sure you're heading up there to golf, visit the cranberry bogs or buzz through on your way to the Dairy State Cheese Factory (more to come on that in another writing); but there's a pizzeria called Portesi's Fine Foods, 4110 8th St., right smack in the middle of town, that's worth a stop.
It's become a family holiday tradition to get takeout from Portesi's on the first night of our visit. Scott and I both are addicted to the cracker-thin crust and the fact that it takes them over an hour just to build one of these freshly homemade pies.
Portesi's has been around since 1961, so we aren't the first people to stumble upon it, but the truly addictive nature of its pizzas ensures that we won't be the last, either.
I love that the pizzas still come in the same presentation they did when I was a kid -- lovingly sliced on a round of cardboard with the tiny plastic tripod to hold the paper surrounding them, and that that same cardboard doesn't contain a lick of grease once you've eaten the last slice. If you're anywhere in the vicinity, take the trek down Highway 13 and check this place out.
One final note-this is not the same Portesi's that has pizzas in the frozen section of your grocery store. You can only get it in good old Wisconsin Rapids. Go Raiders.
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 OnMilwaukee.com.