Milwaukee, like most cities, has never really had any sort of pizza shortage. Whether it's the classic cracker-thin crust from Zaffiro's or Pizza Man you like, the thicker, doughy version at Pizza Shuttle or Joey Buena's deep-dish, there has always been a plethora of pie options.
But unlike many other large metropolitan areas, Milwaukee has somehow been massively devoid of pizza slices to go. In cities like New York or Chicago, you can hardly go a block without passing an opportunity to grab a slice, but that's not been the trend here -- with a few exceptions over the years -- until recently.
"Everywhere that I have ever lived or traveled to had at least one good slice shop," says Marisa Lang, owner of Classic Slice restaurant, which opened in Bay View in spring, 2007. "A place that you could bring the family, a date, or eat solo on your way to see a band -- I longed for Milwaukee to provide the same experience."
Acting on her vision for a place to get a good salad, a slice and a beer with "no frills or huge time commitment," she opened her slicery -- you can also get full pizzas, calzones and bread sticks, too -- to help fill the big gap in the quick eating market.
There are a handful of other restaurants and delis around town that are doing their part to make Milwaukee a slice city, as well.
1107 Old World Third St., (414) 224-6040
Brick 3 opened in early 2009 as a Downtown source for New York-style pizza. On any given day, you'll choose from about 10 varieties, available in 20-inch pies or large slices. All the classics are there, but you'll also find creativity manifested in the form of full Italian meals on soft crust. The Caprese, for example, looks more like the savory salad it's named for, and probably requires the same utensils to eat it.
Slice price: $3-$5.25
2797 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 238-2406
To give you an idea of how huge these slices are, only one slice can fit into a 12-in. pizza box. As owner Lange says, "Only the brave order two." Every slice is essentially it's own creation, so each is made to order with any of the restaurant's available sauces, cheeses (including soy) and toppings.
Slice price: $3.50 for cheese, .50 each topping
6913 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 258-5282
Opening in 2007, Cranky Al's has quickly become a West Side favorite. Rather than a traditional slice, pizza lovers can order the personal 10-in. pizza with any variety of toppings.
Slice price: $8.50 for cheese, $1 each topping
Crisp Pizzabar & Lounge
1323 E. Brady St., (414) 727-4317
Crisp Pizzabar & Lounge offers wood-fired gourmet pizza by the slice and whole pies, but goes much beyond your standard toppings selection. Homemade gyro sausage, garlic cream, roasted potatoes, eggs and walnuts are standouts and the list does not end there.
Slice price: $5
1813 E. Kenilworth Pl., (414) 727-2122
Hotch-A-Do makes its own pizza dough on a daily basis from the family recipe of owner Angie Storm. The organic-oriented restaurant doesn't serve actual slices, per se, but it does offer individually-sized six-in. pizzas of any variety.
Slice price: $5, $3 additional topping
Ian's Pizza By the Slice
2035 E. North Ave., (414) 727-9200
Already a staple in Madison and in Chicago's Wrigleyville, Ian's made its way to Milwaukee in early 2010. A rotating menu offers lots of different choices, options like Philly Cheesesteak pizza, chicken and mashed potato pizza, or quesadilla pizza.
Slice price: $2.50 for cheese and sausage, $3.50 for all others
1888 N. Humboldt Ave., (414) 272-1888
This pizzeria opened in summer 2007 in the first floor of a new condo development. By the full pie, you can get just about any variety your taste buds desire, including Hawaiian, cheese steak and BBQ chicken, but when it comes to the single slice, Meglio stays traditional with cheese, cheese and pepperoni or cheese and sausage offerings.
Slice price: $3.95
1123 N. Van Buren St., (414) 273- 1928
The deli at this Downtown grocery store is always hopping during the lunch hour, no doubt in part to the excellent pizza slices with equally as excellent prices. The cheese, cheese and sausage and veggie -- which is loaded with green and red peppers, onions and mushrooms -- varieties all come with a medium-thick crust and are all the same low price.
Slice price: $1.99
1827 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 289-9993
The slices here are infamous for their uber thick and doughy texture, topped with a generous supply of homemade sauce. Call in advance for if you're curious about the slice of the day, but the Shuttle is almost always stocked with plenty of the classics -- cheese, pepperoni, sausage, pepperoni and sausage.
Slice price: $3.99
11319 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 771-4222
Rocky's is an old Milwaukee standby, but not everyone knows it offers two kinds of sliced pizza in addition to its traditional whole pies. The pan style super sizes are 3/4 of a pound in weight and come with specialty topping combos. The regular slices are half-pounders and come with more standard toppings.
Slice price: $3.16 for regular, $4.22 for pan style
2040 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 344-9931
New York style pizza by the slice is the star here, with no fewer than 13 varieties available at all times. They’ve got your basic cheese, pepperoni and mushroom slices, but it’s Sal’s specialty pizzas that highlight the restaurant’s edge. There’s not only BBQ chicken, but there’s also Buffalo chicken; and rather than cheese and sausage, you’ll find a bacon cheeseburger version.
Slice price: $3- $3.75
Streetza is a roaming pizza truck whose default locale is the intersection of Water Street and Juneau Avenue. It has more than 15 signature pizzas but is constantly coming up with new, creative daily specials, many of which have been suggested via text or tweet from customers. Streetza uses local and organic produce and meats to top cleverly-named pizzas, such "meatballs the movie, wait we mean the slice," "Wisconsin Stair Fair chili," "farmer's market" and, perhaps the most sought after, "the brew crew sausage race," which piles all the Klement's racing sausages (yes, even hot dog) onto a blend of five cheeses.
Slice price: $3.75
Times Square Pizzeria
605 S. 1st St., (414) 224-6300
Times Square also opened in '07 to dish slices to the traveling masses. Daily offerings include pepperoni, sausage, pepperoni and sausage, margherita (olive oil base topped with tomato and basil), cheese and an ever-changing specialty 'za. Times Square earns extra pizza points for serving a warm, buttery, flaky roll with each slice.
Slice price: $3.25
2305 N. Prospect Ave., (414) 223-1500
Alongside the jumbo calzones and panini at Whole Foods' hot prepared foods area are freshly wood-fired slices with cheese, cheese and pepperoni, as well as a couple specialty surprises. One is enough for lunch, but the price cut at two is a good deal if you're looking for tomorrow's lunch, too.
Slice price: $2.99 or two for $5
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”