In search of Milwaukee’s perfect pizza.
OnMilwaukee

In search of Milwaukee’s perfect pizza

Milwaukee loves pizza. Our neighborhoods are filled with pizzerias - all unique, bursting with flavor and filled with storied histories. One Milwaukeean, Rick Rodriguez, has eaten his way through the lion's share. And his hard-earned work has resulted in this guide to some of the best pizza in greater Milwaukee.

Read on. Use and share his stories. And, please, save a slice for us.

Milwaukee Rick’s Picks: North Side

Hup’s

Map: 5400 W. Hampton Ave.

"The first thing I noticed was that the toppings were loaded on. There was so much pepperoni, it almost completely covered the thick layer of cheese. The chunks of Italian sausage were also plentiful. Hup’s clearly does not skimp on toppings…"

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Champion Chicken

Map: 8718 W. Lisbon Ave.

"You haven’t seen busy, though, until you’ve clocked the pickup counter next door on a Friday at dinner time. A window opens up to a large staff running hither and thither preparing hundreds of fish dinners, fried chicken meals and more for the steady stream of customers popping in to pick up a quick meal. Amazingly enough, even when the rush is on, the counter staff is all smiles and cheer. How do they do it?…"

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Gianelli’s Pizza

Map: 8701 W. Fond Du Lac Ave.

"Gianelli’s Pizza does not use bacon bits nor anything resembling bacon bits. It uses real bacon, chopped into various sizes. There were several pieces of bacon on my pizza that were the size of a third of a strip of bacon. You’ve got to love that if you’re a bacon lover, like I am…"

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Milwaukee Rick’s Picks: East Side

Calderone Club

Map: 842 N. Old World 3rd St.

"I found it interesting that the origin of the pizza recipe for Balistreri’s also originates with the Caradaro, but the Balistreri pizza tasted different from the Calderone Club pizza. Part of me wishes I was around in the early ’60s to try the pizza at the original Caradaro. There is at least one other pizzeria with ties to the Caradaro Club, but I’ll focus on my most recent visits for now…"

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Lisa’s

Map: 2961 N. Oakland Ave.

"The crust was thin and had a bit of a charred look on parts of the edges. It sure looked like it would be crispy. The diced green peppers and pepperoni provided a nice color contrast to the sausage and mushrooms. I was in my happy place…"

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Zaffiro’s

Map: 1724 N. Farwell Ave.

"Some of you are mad at me for not blogging about Zaffiro’s, Transfer, Pizza Shuttle or whatever your favorite pizza may be. It’s not because I don’t like the pizza, because I do. I’ve enjoyed the pizza many times, but I feel like everyone knows about them, especially Zaffiro’s…"

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Milwaukee Rick’s Picks: South Side

Fixture

Map: 623 S. 2nd St.

"Finely diced onions, fresh mushrooms, and large chunks of slightly tangy and tender Italian sausage from Chicago’s Greco & Sons, rested on top of the sauce. The pizza was heavy from the sauce and toppings and each slice held up very well, barely flopping if at all. The crust is made with pizza dough made from-scratch in-house. Each rectangular cut slice featured an airy crust that was crisp and still strong enough to hold the toppings and sauce…"

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Tenuta’s

Map: 2995 S. Clement Ave.

"Most of the pepperoni slices were placed under the cheese, as were most of the toppings, so they didn’t get a chance to curl and crisp up. However, they did have a great spicy flavor. Tenuta’s uses fresh mushrooms on their pizzas, and they complemented the pepperoni and sausage instead of dominating over them like canned mushrooms typically do…"

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Ricardo’s

Map: 5627 Broad St., Greendale

"When it comes out of the oven, it is topped off with tortilla chips, fresh and crisp lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese and black olives, so they stay cool upon arrival to the table. Yet, they don’t stop there. They also provide a plate with sides of sour cream and salsa for you to add if you wish, and you should…"

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Milwaukee Rick’s Picks: West Side

Caradaro Club

Map: 5010 W. Vliet St.

"The sausage comes from the same Chicago meat purveyor used by the original owners. The sausage is on the mild side, made without fennel but still providing a nice flavor. I would have preferred some fennel and a spicier flavor. The pepperoni is some of the hottest pepperoni I’ve had, which was refreshing. It seems as if most of the pepperoni I’ve had at other pizzerias is on the mild side. It’s pepperoni; I’d like it spicy, please…"

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Alphonso’s

Map: 1119 S. 108th St., West Allis

"Then I was hit by the "wow factor." That sauce! It was savory with a bit of sweetness, a delicious combination of seasoning. Combined with the thick layers of cheese and the sauce, I wouldn’t have needed any other toppings to enjoy this pizza…"

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Pizzeria Scotty!

Map: 1119 S. 108th St., West Allis

"It didn’t take long for me to notice that this place was hopping! The phone was ringing almost non-stop with orders. I counted three different delivery drivers picking up orders and heading back out on the road. Another five guys were working hard in the kitchen, prepping and cooking and communicating with each other. This was on a TUESDAY! I can’t imagine what it will be like on the weekend with football games on Saturday and Sunday…"

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Wauwatosa Rick’s Picks: Wauwatosa

Balistreri’s

Map: 812 N. 68th St.

"One thing I remember about Balistreri’s pizzas is that the crust was often very soft. When my pizza arrived, it was just like I remembered. The outer half inch of the crust had a cracker crunch, the rest of the crust had a much softer texture. The spicy flavor of the sauce, combined with its somewhat thick texture, quickly made up for the flimsy pizza slices. The large chunks of Italian sausage, which is made fresh by a local butcher, was delicious and had a subtle kick. The same is true of the pepperoni slices…"

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Lalli’s

Map: 8826 W. North Ave.

"The hand-tossed crust, which is made fresh daily, is very crispy and a little chewy, similar to a New York style hand-tossed crust except thicker and crispier. The bottom of the crust is coated with cornmeal, not too much to turn me off but enough for those who prefer cornmeal on their pizza crusts…"

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Pizza Man

Map: 2597 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee
Map: 11500 W. Burleigh St.

"The deep reddish hue of the bowl-shaped pepperoni and pizza sauce, as well as the brown and gray shades of the Italian sausage provided a brilliant contrast against the white and golden cheesy canvas. The edge of the crust had the charred look that I like to see and the cracker crunch I like to bite into.…"

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Suburbs Rick’s Picks: North ‘Burbs

Tomaso’s

Map: W63N688 Washington Ave., Cedarburg

"A Special "T" sandwich cooked with a charcoal broiler had my lunch companion raving. A fennel-filled Klement’s Italian sausage patty was topped with melted cheese and red sauce, and served on garlicky buttered sourdough bread with crisp French fries on the side. Other sandwiches include hamburgers, sausage and meatball bombers and Italian beef, all priced under $9…"

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Pepino’s

Map: N84 W15841 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls

"Instead of tomato sauce, a homemade pesto sauce provided the base, which was then covered with layers of delicious mozzarella cheese. The pesto flavor wasn’t overpowering but was noticeable. Large slices of fresh mushrooms, finely diced tomatoes, garlic and basil flakes were spread out over the cheese, providing a fresh and delicious flavor combination…"

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Zarletti Mequon

Map: 1515 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon

"Next up, the apple gorgonzola pizza provided a refreshing relief to the heat from the Diavola. A little olive oil coated the crust instead of the tomato sauce. The gorgonzola provided an expected pungent flavor, but the fresh mozzarella and subtle sweetness of the apple slices helped to balance the flavor. The apple slices maintained a slightly crisp texture, but chopped walnuts provided most of the contrasting texture to the soft cheeses.…"

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More from Milwaukee’s North ‘Burbs:

Suburbs Rick’s Picks: South ‘Burbs

Ann’s Italian Restaurant

Map: 5969 S. 108th Pl., Hales Corners

"The thin, crispy crust is topped with a garlic butter sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh slices of tomato, chopped basil, thin slivers of red onion and plump medium sized shrimp. Again, the slices were cut as triangular pie slices and did not bend. Since the tomatoes were sliced instead of diced, they seemed to dominate the other flavors. However, Ann’s is generous with the shrimp so we didn’t feel like we were eating a cheese and tomato pizza. The bites without tomato or shrimp allowed us to savor the flavor of the garlic butter sauce…"

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Armeli’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

Map: 16201 W. National Ave., New Berlin

"After I took the first bite, I didn’t want to stop. Other than the bacon and the fresh mozzarella, none of the toppings really stood out but all worked together to create a savory symphony…"

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Matty’s Bar & Grille

Map: 14460 College Ave., New Berlin

"Of the three pizzas my friends and I tried, the chipotle chicken was our favorite. I didn’t think that the chipotle sauce was spicy, in that I didn’t feel any heat, but it was certainly bold with delicious flavor. The chicken was tender, as advertised, and the black bean corn relish added a nice dimension of texture and flavor…"

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More from Milwaukee’s South ‘Burbs:

Suburbs Rick’s Picks: West ‘Burbs

Doc’s Dry Dock

Map: N38W27091 Parkside Rd., Pewaukee

"The barbecue chicken pizza was the best I’ve had! It was topped with diced chicken, green peppers and onions over a Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. The pie was also topped with a special seasoning that was too secret for Doc’s to share with us. However, I think the sauce was driving most of the flavor. We were picking up some heat, and we ate more of the pizza. I think they may have been using a spicy version of the barbecue sauce. The seasoning didn’t seem to be the source of the spicy flavor.…"

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Bennolli’s Handmade Pizza

Map: 615 Main St., Delafield

" I noticed that many of the margherita pizzas I’ve seen on menus add one or two toppings that are not part of a traditional margherita. This one is simply topped with the traditional red sauce, balls of fresh mozzarella cheese and a few crushed tomatoes. Then it’s drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a little sea salt and freshly torn basil leaves!…"

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Tony Maronni’s

Map: N63 W23811 Main St., Sussex

"The color contrast of the red peppers against the bright white ricotta cheese made this pizza visually pleasing. Thankfully, this pizza tasted as good as it looked. It was definitely a flavor combination I’ll start looking for at other future pizzerias…"

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More from Milwaukee’s West ‘Burbs:

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