By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 18, 2022 at 7:02 PM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

There's a brand new fusion concept on the way to 1758 N. Water St., a building which most recently housed DiModa Hot Spot & Pizzeria, but was also the longtime home of Trocadero, a restaurant that served up casual French cuisine there for 16 years.

Coming soon is Tauro Cocina, a new concept which will be operated by Alberto and Ahide Valdepeña, along with their three sons, Berto, David and Marco.

The couple, who recently purchased the property, hope to open Tauro Cocina sometime this spring when they will introduce the East Side to a menu of dishes which seamlessly blend the varied flavors of Mexico with Italian staples, including pasta and pizza.

Ahide Valdepeña says they plan to begin work soon on the restaurant, which requires mostly cosmetic changes.  In fact, she says, they intend to preserve the historical character of the building, including the exposed Cream City brick, while augmenting the space with a palette of deep, dark masculine tones (black, emerald green, dark blue), as well as new furnishings. 

Current interior at Tauro CocinaX

“We are excited to introduce this concept to Milwaukee,” says Valdepeña, “And we look forward to being a part of the East Side community.”

A true family operation

Chef Alberto Valdepeña is an industry veteran whose career began in California, but who has spent over 25 years in the kitchens, overseeing staff and handling catering at Louise’s (both Downtown and Brookfield), as well as Water Street Brewery in Oak Creek. During his tenure, he also assisted with summer festivals, including Summerfest and Wisconsin State Fair during which he played a role in the creation of award-winning Sporkies. 

“For many years it has been his dream to open his own restaurant,” says Ahide Valdepeña, noting that the restaurant is named for her husband’s zodiac sign, Taurus. “It describes some of his main characteristics: hard worker, responsible and reliable.. to name a few,” she says.

But the restaurant will be a family affair. Valdepeña herself brings over two decades of management and customer service experience, which she will employ in her front of house role at Tauro Cocina. She'll work alongside the couples’ three sons, each of whom will bring their own set of industry skills to the proverbial table. 

Berto brings years of experience behind the bar, including work on the East Coast where he gleaned a deep knowledge of cocktails. David will contribute front of house expertise from work at places including Texas de Brazil, as well as experience making pizzas with his father at Louisa's. Meanwhile Marco, who is currently working on his business degree at UWM, will also contribute his hospitality skills, including those gained working alongside his brother at Texas de Brazil.

On the menu

Although the menu for Tauro Cocina is still being finalized, guests can expect a menu of fresh, seasonal dishes informed both by both Chef Valdepeña’s experience preparing Italian cuisine and his Mexican heritage.   

For example, the sauces for house-made pastas are likely to incorporate the smokey heat of chipotle peppers. Pesto is likely to include the grassy, mild heat of poblano peppers.

Thanks to the Wood Stone pizza oven installed by previous tenant, DiModa Hot Spot & Pizzeria, wood-fired pizzas will also be on the menu, topped with a variety of fresh, local ingredients and finished with queso Oaxaca, a Mexican cheese with a texture similar to mozzarella. 

Chef Valdepeña also hopes to roll out offerings like roasted bone marrow garnished with cilantro, along with a variety of specials which will change frequently.

At the bar, guests will find hand crafted cocktails, including a healthy selection using tequila and mezcal based spirits. 

Once open, Tauro Cocina will offer dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m. Brunch offerings are likely to be added on Saturdays and Sundays once the weather warms up. Lunch may also be added, as demand warrants.

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.