By Paul Blaha   Published Jun 09, 2003 at 5:54 AM

It's said that old friends never leave, although they might need to take a break, now and then. Apparently, that was veteran Milwaukee restaurateur Sally Papia's plan with the new Savoy Room, located in the historic Shorecrest Hotel (1963 N. Prospect Ave.).

Papia returned to the Milwaukee restaurant scene a few years ago and just recently opened the Savoy Room, which has been Snug's, Beccofino and a host of other eateries over the years.

Within seconds of entering the restaurant, it's obvious who's the boss. Papia hovered over the host stand offering my dining companion and me a warm welcome. Everyone seemed to know each other ... and Sally. It looked like they came as much to see Sally as for the food.

We were sat in a corner booth facing out toward Prospect Avenue. My dining companion and I each ordered a gin and tonic ($5.50). While waiting for them to arrive, the waitress brought us a basket of breadsticks, crackers and bread and a plate of chilled vegetables, including peppers, carrots and olives. A nice little touch and much welcomed by my hungry stomach.

My dining companion ordered the Sicilian Steak Siciliano ($23.95), which consists several pieces of steak breaded and cooked in olive oil. I ordered the spiedini ($21.95), thinly sliced meat rolled and stuffed with breadcrumbs. Each entree came with soup and salad, as well as choice of potato and choice of pasta. We both ordered the chicken soup with the recommendation of the waitress, and it was excellent


Waiting for our meals, we had time to enjoy the atmosphere. The walls were covered with classy paintings of women, and whispers of Sinatra set a nice mood.

Our meals -- wonderfully presented -- arrived just after we ordered our second round of drinks. We were overwhelmed by the size of the portions, especially after having soup and salad. We agreed that the food was good, but not outstanding. We felt we were paying more for the quantity of food than the quality.

Overall, the Savoy Room was a pleasurable dining experience, thanks to Papia's welcoming presence and the warm atmosphere. The menu offered something for everyone from steaks, chops and pasta to seafood, sandwiches and even a fish fry. Every item is served in quite large portions (the menu also offers trimmed-down portions that are half the size of the regular entrees). Entree prices range from $14-$25.

The Savoy Room is also open for lunch. Reservations are not necessary but are accepted at (414) 270-9933. All major credit cards are accepted. They also offer valet parking.