By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Feb 14, 2018 at 3:02 PM

It was 1989 when Girolama "Mimma" Megna opened Mimma’s Cafe on Brady Street. And for nearly 30 years, her dishes were a staple among those looking for Italian fine dining in Milwaukee.

The restaurant was also a game changer for Brady Street. Mimma’s became the place to be for romantic dinners, business meetings and special occasions. Megna’s homestyle cooking attracted the attention of celebrities like Ernest Borgnine and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. And the restaurant’s rapid growth attracted much needed attention to the East Side strip, resulting in interest that sparked both investment and increased business in the area.

Needless to say, when news broke that Mimma’s would serve its final meal on Dec. 31, 2016, there was a cry of mourning from diners who had grown to love Megna’s homestyle dishes.

Fortunately, Megna has not yet hung up her apron. And diners who’ve missed her cooking will have numerous opportunities over the next few months to experience her talents and learn a thing or two from the woman who gained a reputation as the "Mother of Brady Street."

Mimma’s Supper

On Feb. 25, Supper, 1962 N. Prospect Ave., will host a very special one-night-only engagement during which diners can enjoy six classic dishes from Mimma’s on Brady. Megna herself will be working the kitchen with the assistance of Supper executive chef Erik Hansen.

Courses will include:

  • Grilled calamari alla griglia
  • Caprese salad, prosciutto, crostini
  • Farfalle Taormina
  • Spedini, beef, pork, red sauce, oven roasted potato
  • Red Snapper, cherry tomato-wine sauce, green beans
  • Tiramisu

Cost for the dinner is $75. Optional wine pairings can be added for an additional $40. Reservations can be made by calling (414) 509-6074.

Cooking classes with Mimma

If you’d prefer, you could also spend an hour or two learning the secrets behind the dishes that attracted loyal customers to Mimma’s Cafe for nearly 30 years. During the months of March and April, Megna will host a series of cooking classes, each of which will feature classic dishes from regions including Tuscany, Roma, Sicily and Piedmont.

Each class will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the second floor kitchen space at the Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St.

March 7: A Tour of Italy on a Small Plate

Impress all of your friends by throwing a delectable Italian soiree. You’ll have all the skills to do so after this class during which Megna will teach attendees how to prepare a variety of tasty (and filling) antipastos including gamberi Toscana (Tuscan shrimp), arancini (rice balls stuffed with meat, seafood or vegetables) and bruschetta, made with fresh tomato and basil.
Cost: $89 per person.

March 27: Easter in Sicily

This class will showcase the flavors of Sicily through dishes like marinated artichoke bruschetta and Sicilian papardelle con ragu di agnello (lamb ragu). Megna will also make her version of the caprese salad with colorful cherry tomatoes and homemade dressing.
Cost: $89 per person.

April 10: A Taste of Roma

During this class, Megna will dispel the myths surrounding the Roman staple, spaghetti alla carbonara, a simple dish made from bacon, eggs and cheese that’s both simple and impressive. Attendees will also indulge in chicken parmigiana and panzanella salad.
Cost: $89 per person.

April 18: A Taste of Piedmont

During this session, Megna will demonstrate how to make a variety of dishes from the Piedmont region. Guests will enjoy an appetizer of funghi ripieni di menta e prezzemolo (stuffed portabella mushrooms) as well as Piedmontese favorites like pork scallopine and risotto al funghi e zafferano (mushroom risotto with saffron).
Cost: $89 per person.

For more information and to register for classes, visit milwaukeepublicmarket.org.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.