October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!
Pardon the pun, but the reason for Zaffiro’s success as a pizzeria is a toss-up. Both the comfort-foody ‘za and the cozy, laid-back atmosphere keep the tables populated most nights of the week.
Today, Mike Zaffiro is the sole owner of the popular pizza joint. His father and uncle, Bob and John Zaffiro, started making pizza at the Rock-A-Bye Tap in the then-predominantly-Italian Third Ward in 1954. They opened their own business in its current Farwell Avenue location in 1956.
"Making pizzas is in our blood," says Mike.
Originally, Zaffiro’s was half its size, but in 1970, the Zaffiro brothers bought the barbershop next door and built the dining room area.
Bob invented the recipe for Zaffiro’s signature thin and crispy crust about five decades ago. Today, the crust is one of Milwaukee's most famous pizza crusts.
"It’s a secret family recipe," says Mike.
Zaffiro’s most popular pizza is the "EBF" – Everything But Fish – that includes every available topping except anchovies. Other coveted pies include the sausage and mushroom and the vegetarian. Pizza prices range from $12.75 to $23.
Aside from pizza, the menu features appetizers (garlic bread, breaded mushrooms, etc.), sandwiches (pork sandwich, meatball sandwich, etc.), pasta (ravioli, tortellini, etc.) and seafood (fried shrimp, etc). Most of the food items are under $10.
Mike says he eats at least three pieces of pizza every day, and he loves the food so much, he frequents other pizzerias as well.
"Lisa’s has always been a second place favorite," he says. "I ate their pizza as a kid, and I still eat it today."
Mike says his restaurant is deeply commitment to quality and consistency.
"We have offered a great product that’s consistently good," he says. "We have customers that have been coming here for 40 years."
Zaffiro’s is one of four restaurants competing in the OnMilwaukee.com "Slice of Milwaukee" pizza contest. The contest runs during the month of October, which is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com.
The contest challenges Zaffiro’s, Classic Slice, Pizza Man and Balistreri’s to create a "Milwaukee" pizza. The editors of OnMilwaukee.com will sample the four pizzas, pick the winner and announce it in an article -- which will feature all four of the recipes -- on Oct. 30. The pizzas are judged on taste, presentation, creativity and "Milwaukee-ness."
"Milwaukee is a town of hardworking people, and hardworking people make the pizza at Zaffiro's," says Mike.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.