By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 15, 2008 at 5:17 AM

It's common knowledge by now that the expansion of Potawatomi Bingo Casino in the Menomonee Valley will create a new first-floor home for the upscale Dream Dance restaurant. But perhaps still under the radar for a lot of fine dining fans is the arrival of the new Wild Earth restaurant, which Potawatomi touts as "a place where a great dining experience doesn't have to be formal."

According to Potawatomi Food and Beverage Director Michael Tsuchihashi, when the decision was made to add another dining option in the expanded casino, the idea was floated to add an option at a price point above the Fire Pit Sports Bar and below Dream Dance.

"There was such a huge void between these two we thought, ‘let's put it between these two restaurants. Some suggested that we add a steakhouse but we decided Milwaukee has enough steakhouses at the moment."

There is something to the classic steakhouse look to Wild Earth, however, says Tsuchihashi.

"It's a beautiful restaurant. Very masculine, with dark wood. It has a very sophisticated feel to it."

Where Wild Earth stands apart, however, is in the service and the menu.

The latter is based on some traditional elements -- such as crab cake appetizers, Caesar salads and steak sandwiches -- but also some interesting takes on familiar favorites, like couscous-breaded shrimp and pretzel-crusted lake perch.

The service will be attention and upscale, yet personable and casual, says Tsuchihashi.

"You're going to really feel special here. The service will be friendly and approachable but we will keep the price point to a lower check average than at Dream Dance."

Tsuchihashi estimates that the average dinner guest will pay $32, and the average lunch diner will spend $16. 

Despite being located on the third floor of the casino expansion, Wild Earth will have perhaps the highest geographical profile of all the restaurants at Potawatomi, says Tsuchihashi. Guests entering via the skywalk connecting the parking garage will see Wild Earth immediately upon entering the building.

Entering the restaurant, guests will see Wild Earth's varied wine selection before entering an open dining room with an array of banquettes around the perimeter and an island of booths in the center. Freestanding tables will be arrayed in the space between.

In a first for a Potawatomi restaurant, Wild Earth will have an open kitchen.

"We really want it to be a high-energy restaurant," says Tsuchihashi. "You can see everything going on in the kitchen and I think it will really boost the energy for the guests and for the staff."

While Dream Dance, the new buffet and a new Asian eatery are expected to open during the expansion's first phase unveiling in June, Wild Earth has a planned launch date in July as part of the second phase of the redevelopment.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.