9.28.11 Dinner. Rustico Pizzeria (Third Ward. Milwaukee, WI)

Bar Side of Restaurant.
Toward Rear of Restaurant.
So, it was a Wednesday night and Jamie and I were due for a dinner out.  We both are obsessed with Groupon and I had one for Rustico Pizzeria so we decided that it would be the night to use it.  Both of us had been there before and enjoyed it.  It was an earlier time for dinner, 6pm, and a Wednesday night so of course we didn't have a problem with being seated.  There were many tables open.  It was so early that I think that the after work "happy hour" crowd was still at the bar.  We're getting old... our stomachs demand early bird dinners.

The space itself was the typical Third Ward Milwaukee feel.  Cream city brick walls, long and narrow building and exposed pipes and beams.   It provided a darker ambiance.  The bar is immediately to the right when you enter and there are some high top tables across from it.  Along the rest of the restaurant are low top tables. Old photographs adorn the walls that are painted a nice earthy color.  Despite the brick and exposed beans and pipes, the restaurant provides a warm and homey vibe.

When we were at the table, we must have not hung out in a while because we were a pair of chatty Cathy's.  It took us forever to decide on what we wanted to drink and eat.  Our server was nice and patient with us as we often apologized for not knowing what we wanted time after time that she stopped to check in.  We finally decided on some beverages.  I hoped for an Oktoberfest brew, which they didn't have, but she did offer me a seasonal that they had on tap, Birra Moretti's La Rossa, a doppelbock.  Jamie chose Schlitz, she would.  Side note, Jamie calls me a hipster for drinking PBR while she often drinks Schlitz.  Same thing right? I think it is.  Hypocrite...just saying.  Her Schlitz was a Schlitz.  Not much to say about it but it was nice and cold.  Nobody likes a luke warm and flat lager.  My doppelbock was delicious.  Doppelbock is a darker malty beer.  It was a very smooth beer but of course, since it's dark, it's something I would only have one of.   To me, it had chocolate and coffee tinges to it but on websites, some would describe it as a smokey and oak type of flavor.  Try it out for yourself.

La Rossa and Schlitz.
After more chit chat, we finally started to decide what we wanted to eat.  The menu had lots of pizza options.  We went into this knowing we wanted pizza.  Of course, they had other Italian options.  Since this was a pizzeria, I obviously won't break it up into what we individually ordered as we just shared. We are good sharers.  Although, I'm not the best sharer/split'er unless we each split our own meals and half'sies.  I can eat quite a lot and I like me some food fo' sho'.  Let's get into the goodness then, shall we?
Grandma's Meatballs Served with Bread.

App details:
Grandma's Meatballs.  Three hearty sized meatballs served within their tomato sauce and served with warm bread.  $6.95 

Our Thoughts:
Let me tell ya, my grandma doesn't make meatballs...or at least I don't think she does... But, if she did, I would hope they would taste like these.  These were amazing.  Who knows if it was because I was hungry but Jamie agreed with me.  These meatballs were so flavorful and tender.  It may be the best meatball I've had in a long time (sorry Mom, yours are delicious but these were a party in my mouth).  The meatballs were garnished with some Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.  The blend of italian spices was perfect.  I'm a marinara snob and their sauce passed my inspection.  It wasn't too acidic like some marinara and tomato sauces can be.  Of course, the soft bread is a nice addition to mop up any left over sauce on our plates or the bowls.  If it weren't frowned upon, I would have licked the bowl and my plate clean.  But, of course I didn't.  Jamie would probably just shake her head at me.

Toscana Pizza.
Pizza Details:
12" Toscana Pizza.  Sausage, porcini mushroom, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and asiago. $13.95

Our Thoughts:
The sausage came in slices of sausage.  Jamie didn't like the fact that it was in slices.  I myself, don't mind the slices but the sausage is somewhat off.  We both agreed that it didn't taste like the typical Italian sausage that we're used to.  But, who knows, we're not Italian sausage specialists.  I couldn't pin point the typical spice I taste in Italian sausage but with some research I found that it was the fennel seed that I didn't notice.  But, who knows, it could have been ground in.  Then, I wondered if it was too porky... couldn't pin point it.  Loved the sauce.  Not sure if it was the same as the one on the meatballs but either way, Rustico knows how to work their tomatoes.  The crust was on the thinner side.  Cheese was good.  Mushrooms were barely noticeable.  So, if you're a mushroom hater, you may be able to slide by with this one.  Overall, the pizza was good but it was a hard act to follow after the meatballs.

Other things to keep in mind:
-Menu included Italian inspired sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes along with pizza's.
-They do have a brunch menu.
-They may be the same owner as Zarletti and Stubby's (noted that they advertise these locations on their website) so if you like those places, you might like this place. 
-Street parking only so you have to consider this.  But, there is a parking structure just down the block and East of their location. 

I really really enjoyed the appetizer in case you already didn't know.  I do enjoy the crust of their pizza's.  They do have desserts and other dishes that I may try another time.  The restaurant set up itself is typical third ward which I do enjoy.  Obviously, I'll come again since I've enjoyed my visits.  If there is another Groupon, I'll definitely get it.  Go and try their food.  If you go, and try out the sausage, let me know what your thoughts are in regard to the slice factor and the flavor flav.

Rustico Pizzeria
223 N Water St 
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 220-9933
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11am
Brunch: Saturday/Sunday 11am
Kitchen open late: Monday - Thursday 12am, Friday/Saturday 1:30am

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