By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 04, 2021 at 11:01 AM

’Tis Dining Month, the tastiest time of year! This means we’re dishing up fun and fascinating food content throughout October. Dig in, Milwaukee!

SALA, the cozy family-owned and operated Sicilian restaurant tucked just off the beaten path at 2613 E. Hampshire St., has officially graced Milwaukee’s East Side for two decades.

To mark the milestone, the Balistreri family is inviting diners to stop in Oct. 4 through Oct. 16 for $20 dinner specials, smartly priced cocktails and gifts (you can enter to win a drawing for gift baskets of goodies).

That means plenty of great Sicilian food, lovely bottles of wine and friendly welcoming hospitality all around.

Exterior of SalaX

20 years of delicious

It was Oct. 2, 2001 when siblings Anthony Balistreri and Teresa Balistreri-Warsh opened the neighborhood restaurant as Sala da Pranzo.

In Italian, Sala da Pranzo means “the dining room,” and it described the intimacy of a restaurant that was driven by a desire to share not only their love for food, but the heritage of Sicilian cooking passed down to them by their great-grandmother Lena D’Amico.

Since then, the restaurant – the name of which was shortened in 2012 – has become known for its crisp, thin crust pizza, comforting pasta dishes, engaging specials and homemade tiramisu.

Eggplant dish at SalaX

"Our great-grandmother, whose portrait hangs on the dining room wall, notably said, ‘There are only two things in life: food and respect’," noted Teresa. "She lived to 102 years of age, cooking every day of her adult life, starting by standing on a stool beside her mother until her great-great-grandchildren were learning on a stool beside her."

Twenty years later, even as the city strives to adjust to the changes incited by the pandemic, SALA’s doors remain open to welcome guests and unite the community through delicious food, served with care by Executive Chef Anthony Balistreri and Chef de Cuisine Peter Balistreri.

Despite changes over the years – from the addition of a new bar and remodeled kitchen, to an expanded patio, and the addition of curbside pick-up – SALA has remained true to its origins as a welcoming, neighborhood staple. It’s both a gathering place for monumental celebrations and a welcome respite which transforms even the most ordinary of evenings into a memorable occasion. And it’s a place where everyone is welcomed to the table.

An announcement about the 20th anniversary celebration contained the following message: 

“The entire staff of SALA wishes to thank the many beloved customers who have become like family for allowing them to play a role in the thriving culture of Milwaukee’s East Side. Please come celebrate with us this month as we take time to enjoy food, friends who become like family, and the beauty of a dining room full of conversation and love.”

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.