By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 26, 2011 at 10:54 AM Photography: Whitney Teska

SURG Restaurant Group, which has taken over Ryan Braun's Waterfront restaurant, 102 N. Water St. in the Third Ward, brings back a familiar face to helm the kitchen.

When I was at Charro recently to write a story, I asked after Dominic Zumpano -- who led the kitchen staffs at Umami Moto and Charro -- and was told he'd left SURG amicably to return to his native Chicago.

Zumpano is now headed back to town to develop a new menu and run the kitchen when Braun's reopens in March. Word is that Zumpano's Italian heritage will be reflected in the new menu.

"This is such a great opportunity for me to not only return to Milwaukee, but to also be a part of the redevelopment of the restaurant," said Zumpano, whom I profiled a couple years back.

"I share the same vision that Mike and Omar have of what a dining experience should be. We're looking forward to opening the doors and showcasing the new look, feel and menu for the restaurant."

During his tenure in Milwaukee Zumpano was nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest.

"As we continue to revise the brand of RBWF, a menu with a strong culinary focus is important," said SURG owner Mike Polaski, in a statement.

"We knew right away Dominic was the guy to create a menu that was both interesting and unique to our customers. He knows the market well and we look forward to unveiling the menu."

SURG also announced that renovation plans are nearly complete for the revamped eatery and that gift cards the restaurant's previous incarnation will be honored when the restaurant reopens.

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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.