The wait for Tauro Cocina, the new fusion concept coming to the former Trocadero at 1758 N. Water St., is drawing closer.
The interior of the restaurant has undergone a number of cosmetic changes, and – as the weather begins to warm – plans for outfitting the venue’s beautiful patio are in the works.
In fact, the restaurant is just waiting on the necessary licensing from the city so they can open their doors and welcome their first guests. And we’ll be sure to keep you apprised so that you can try it out for yourself.
Until then, here’s a peek at the space and a bit of what you can expect when they open.
A true family operation
Owned and operated by Alberto and Ahide Valdepeña, along with their three sons, Berto, David and Marco, Tauro Cocina is truly a family-owned and operated concept.
The fresh, seasonal menu, which will seamlessly blend the varied flavors of Mexico with Italian staples (including pasta and pizza) is a reflection of Chef Alberto Valdepeña’s experience working for Italian restaurants like Louisa’s, as well as the ingredients innate to his Mexican heritage. And he’ll be joined in the kitchen by his son David, who brings experience making pizzas with his father at Louisa’s.
Meanwhile, with front of house operations handled by Ahide and Marco, Berto will use the knowledge he gleaned from work at a variety of East Coast venues to inform the beverage program at the restaurant.
A new look for familiar digs
The interior of the restaurant harbors both the familiar – a layout formed in the later years of Trocadero and elements left from the building’s time as DiModa – but also new touches that tell the story of a fresh new venue and home base for a family with a passion for the hospitality industry.
Step into the bar and you’ll find the same bright, triangular space which has welcomed guests for nearly 20 years.
But you’ll also find custom bull (tauro)-themed artwork created by Racine artist Liz Fierro. Each drawing is presented in an upcycled frame left behind when the property was sold to the Valdepeña family.
You’ll also see familiar murals on the walls, like the French Gitanes advertisement which has been a trademark of the space since it was among the best casual French spots in the city… though somehow it seems fitting yet again, as it depicts a matador in classic (if cigarette-laden) dress, striking a pose as if acknowledging the crowd as he enters the arena with his cuadrillas, setting the stage to confront the majestic bull.
Move on to the dining room and you’ll meet a mostly familiar sight. But the furniture has been reconnoitered to open up the viewing area for guests and servers.
And the tall banquettes left from DiModa have been reupholstered and padded to give guests a more comfortable experience.
There are still the small, discrete places where diners can enjoy a private, more romantic setting, as well as the bright bar seating around the pizza oven, where the smell of wood infuses the air as the pies bake.
And yes, the iconic patio has been preserved (complete with its fountain), which will be activated again for the summer.
Just a delicious little tease
As for the menu at Tauro Cocina, it’s nearly complete and features a combination of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizza and pasta dishes appropriate for both a casual lunch or dinner.
At the bar, guests will find a selection of both wine and beer, including a nice selection of wines from Italy, Spain and Portugal and beer from Italy, Mexico and Wisconsin. There’s also a list house cocktails which run the gamut from light refreshing quaffs like a limoncello spritz (pictured: prosecco, limoncello, club soda and lemon) to a house margarita, sangria and a rosemary paloma with mezcal, grapefruit and rosemary.
There will be simple appetizers like baguette served with roasted poblano pesto and mussels with white wine and chipotle butter. There are fresh summer salads featuring arugula, peaches, beets and walnuts with balsamic glaze. And there are sandwiches like a classic caprese with fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, basil and balsamic on sourdough.
The pizza oven, which will be fired with a blend of woods including oak, will turn out pizzas like classic pepperoni, mozzarella and house sauce, as well as the poblana with Oaxacan cheese, poblano peppers, red onions and cilantro.
On the pasta side, fettuccine will be served with mezcal chipotle cream, while risotto will feature spicy grilled shrimp, shaved parmesan and cilantro. And guests can look forward to specials like fettuccine with spicy arrabbiata sauce and seafood (pictured below).
There will also be entrees, including hanger steak with parmesan mashed potatoes and salmon with roasted potatoes and house macha sauce (named for the Mexican salsa of the same name).
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.