By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Mar 03, 2010 at 9:07 AM Photography: Andy Tarnoff

In November, we took the top two vote-getters in our Best of Dining 2009 readers poll and put them to the Milwaukee Challenge. Points East Pub was the unanimous winner over Buffalo Wild Wings.

The challenge was so popular, we decided to do a second round, pitting the No. 3 and No. 4 poll winners -- Elsa's on the Park and Club Garibaldi -- against one another.

The results were stunning. Six tasters tested and six tasters voted unequivocally for the dry, spicy, marinated wings at Club Garibaldi.

The next step? A championship round, of course! Stay tuned. In the meantime, here's what we had to say:

Molly Snyder Edler
Staff Writer
Pick: Club Garibaldi

My 7-year-old son, Kai, is the real wing aficionado in my family, so I took him along with me to sample the wings at both establishments. He and I agreed that Garibaldi's were the best.

The Elsa's wings have a lot more sauce which overpowered the flavors in the meat. Plus, the excess sauce made the wings  pretty messy, which might win points with a 7-year-old boy, but it didn't with me. I don't like to wear my food.

My kid says he liked the Garibaldi wings better because "they tasted more like the kind my dad makes on the grill." Indeed, Garibaldi's wings are grilled, and the fact they are marinated prior to grilling adds a lot of flavor. Plus, even though the skin is crispy and appears a bit charred in places, the meat on the inside is really juicy.

Basically, Garibaldi's wings are a truly tantalizing combination of textures and flavors. Throw in the fact Garibaldi's wings are half the price of Elsa's, and for me, it's a no brainer.

Drew Olson
Senior editor
Pick: Club Garibaldi

For my money, even crummy chicken wings are pretty good when you are hanging out with friends, knocking back a few beers and watching a game.

Elsa's wings definitely aren't crummy. I can see why people chose them as a favorite in our reader's survey. I thought their effort was solid. The wings were saucy, but had good flavor and "snap" to them.

I like to feel my lips tingle after eating a wing. You need that bite in the sauce and these were OK.

But, the Garibaldi wings were in a different league.

I'm actually a fan of sauce, but the grilled flavor from these meaty wings set off a fireworks display on the taste buds. I liked that Elsa's provided fries, but it still seemed like an appetizer whereas the wings at Garibaldi are so good that you think about ordering another round and making a meal out of it.

I've had wings in sports bars all over the country and Garibaldi -- and it's cousin at Points East Pub -- are near the top of the list.

Now, if I can just convince my editorial colleagues to try Bougey's in Brookfield vs. Steny's ...

Maureen Post
Staff Writer
Pick: Club Garibaldi

I owned up to it back in the BW3 and Points East Wing Challenge, but honestly, I'm by no means a connoisseur of wings. When I was younger, I had a well-known love for fried chicken (including Champion Chicken) but years later, I no longer really order wings. I'm fairly sure these challenges have prompted me to try the wings at all four establishments for the very first time. 

But easily, the wings at Club Garibaldi take the prize. And to think, I live only a block away and haven't indulged in these until now. Super meaty and juicy, they have just the right amount of spicy kick. There's nothing fancy about the presentation and there's something to be said for offering one flavor and one flavor alone-- it's fitting for the world of wings. I can see why Elsa's are a town favorite, but they're just not for me. I love the dry wing (perhaps the result of my childhood fried chicken obsession) and Elsa's coats theirs with a thick layer of tangy sauce. Plump and meaty but messy, as well.

Bobby Tanzilo
Managing editor
Pick: Club Garibaldi

I prefer the dry wing to the wet wing and, as in challenge one, this round featured one of each. Elsa's soppy wings are plump and tasty with a lot of zing (we avoided the teriyaki and other flavored wings for this challenge, of course). There's a lot of meat, they're juicy and they're tasty.

However, Garibaldi's wings are much less expensive (at $1 each, Elsa's wings cost us two and a half times what we paid for Garibaldi's, although they do come plated with crunchy waffle fries), they're marinated for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours and then grilled to perfection with a dry exterior and a moist, tender interior. Both restaurants serve the de rigeur ranch and bleu cheese and celery sticks.

Of course, you can't really compare the atmospheres of these places -- they're much too different. One is a workaday corner tap and the other is one of Downtown's longest-thriving lunch and nightspot destinations. But wing to wing, Garibaldi takes the cake.

Andy Tarnoff
Pick: Club Garibaldi

Full disclosure: I'm not only not a wings enthusiast, but I never order 'em.  That's not to say I don't like chicken or spicy sauce, because I do, but I just don't get into gnawing food off the bone.  And maybe that's why this was the perfect challenge for me, since I went into it a virtual "wing virgin," and came out tasting two of the best in town. I loved the flavor of Glub G's wings.  The grilled outside mixed perfectly with the hot, but not too hot, sauce. Unfortunately, the wings were half the size (though half the price) of Elsa's -- and they took about 45 minutes to cook.  Elsa's wings tasted much meatier and more hearty, but they were also sloppy enough that I felt like a slob devouring them. I liked the sauce, too, but not as much as Club Garibaldi.  For a newbie like myself, I'll take Garibaldi's wings every time.

Andrew Wagner
Staff writer
Pick: Club Garibaldi

Though I always enjoy the atmosphere of Elsa's, this competition was simply no contest.

Like Bobby, I, too, prefer the dry wing to its sloppy, sauce-drenched counterpart. I like to be able to eat my food without leaving most of the flavor across my beard or on my napkin.

Garibaldi's wings were among the best I've had: dry on the outside, but still moist within; enough spices and flavors with just the right amount of heat to activate all of my taste buds and -- most importantly -- at just the right price, too.

The waffle fries at Elsa's kept this from being a blowout, but in the end ... Garibaldi's lineup was just too stacked.