When Vendetta Coffee Bar opened their Italian style cafe at 7613 W. State St. in Wauwatosa last July, it marked a first for the Milwaukee area, offering guests a taste of the traditional coffee houses found in cities across Italy.
And thanks to the success of their inaugural venture, partners Bill Haley, Tommy Orlando and Tommy Orlando Jr. have brought a second cafe to 524 S. Second St., in the Walker’s Point neighborhood.
Step inside and you’ll find a warm spacious cafe that combines classic Milwaukee cream city brick, warm wood and old world charm with a bit of industrial chic.
Sprawling floor to ceiling windows keep the space bright, while deep black and grey tones and white tile offer a sophisticated Italian aesthetic to the walk-up bar.
The new cafe offers all of the same amenities as its Wauwatosa counterpart, including a menu featuring Italian espresso and a cadre of espresso based drinks including the shakeratoo (iced, shaken espresso), a series of tribute drinks inspired by Italian coffee bars and seasonal drinks like the Vesuvio, an iced shaken drink featuring espresso, chocolate, a touch of Calabrian pepper ($6.50) and the Cafe Verano, an iced shaken drink featuring espresso, honey, cinnamon and vanilla cream that has a flavor reminiscent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal ($6.50).
The cafe also offers a menu of Italian pastries, imported from Bindi Desserts and baked fresh daily, including sfogliatelle (flaky pastry filled with ricotta), bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) and chocolate and almond brioche. The lunch crowd can also enjoy housemade panini including turkey and provol0ne; salami and provolone; caprese and ham and provolone ($9 each).
But there's more
But there’s quite a bit more to love at the Walker’s Point coffee bar, which has the advantage of more overall space inside the cafe, a fully operational kitchen and a second floor loft which serves as both overflow seating and an event space for small gatherings, showers or corporate events.
The new cafe leans solidly into the Italian tradition of aperitivo, during which folks gather and socialize over drinks and lighter fare as a warm-up before dinner.
In keeping with that tradition, Vendetta Walker's Point has introduced an Italian-inspired bar menu available Thursday through Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. and all day on Sundays. Offerings include a short list of craft brewed beer and Italian wines, along with a menu of house cocktails.
Unsurprisingly you’ll find Italian classics like the negroni (gin, campari, vermouth, orange), along with numerous riffs like the Bianco, which subs out lemon for the orange and a smokey rendition featuring mezcal. Guests can also enjoy aperol or campari spritzes, along with fruitier takes like red wine berry, pompelmo or blackberry sage spritzes.
Specialty cocktails include a spiked affogato with gelato, honey, espresso, Grand Marnier and amaretto; the Bafangool Putin (peanut butter whiskey, vodka, chocolate and cream), a chocolate martini and an espresso martini. All cocktails are priced in the $10-$12 range.
Of course, every aperitivo requires bar bites, and Vendetta offers up two classic Italian options including house bruschetta and Orlando’s family recipe for meatballs served with marinara sauce and bread.
Starting this weekend, Vendetta will also add gelato shakes (aka frappès) to their menu in flavors including chocolate, espresso and salted caramel. As the coffee bar gets its stride, there will also be additions to the food menu, including a selection of breakfast sandwiches and specials.
Live music & pop-ups
But that’s not all, guests can also expect live music on Friday nights along with a variety of pop-ups featuring local food businesses.
The first pop-up will take place on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 3 and will feature brick oven pizza from Tim and Emily Pyatt who’ve recently launched a local catering business.
Vendetta Coffee Bar in Walker’s Point is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (with bar service starting at 4 p.m.) and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (bar service all day long).
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.