A look at Ricardo's taco pizza.
A look at Ricardo's taco pizza.
The Ricardo's Special, topped with onions, mushrooms and a choice of pepperoni or sausage.
The Ricardo's Special, topped with onions, mushrooms and a choice of pepperoni or sausage.

In search of the perfect pizza: Ricardo's

Over the years, I rarely ventured into Greendale unless I was visiting a cousin for a family gathering. I’ve heard great things about Ferch’s Malt Shoppe over the years but still haven’t had a chance to visit.

I’ve also heard great things about Ricardo’s Pizza, 5627 Broad St., over the years and never had a chance to visit until recently. I will say that I have been to Ricardo’s Riverfront Pizzeria & Grill, 509 E. Erie St., and enjoyed the pizza there, but I still felt there was a void until I could say that I dined at the original Ricardo’s.

Richard, aka Ricardo, Loch opened Ricardo’s in 1969 and operated it with his late wife, Kathy. The Greendale restaurant is currently run by Richard Loch Jr. and his wife Jill, while Riverfront Pizzeria & Grill has been owned and operated by Loch Sr.’s daughter, Brenda Regenfelder, since opening seven years ago.

I was surprised to find the location to be smaller than I anticipated, nestled near the end of a strip mall which is end-capped by Joey Gerard’s. The entrance left me in a dining room that I walked through to get to the hostess station where I was promptly greeted by a very friendly young lady.

She took us to our table, and shortly after, an even friendlier young lady named Katie introduced herself as our server and took our drink order.

Ricardo’s décor displays various warm shades of brown, from the furniture to the hard wood floors and walls. Behind the hostess station is a separate room featuring a large full bar and a few high tops.

A third room in back leads to the kitchen and holds a buffet station where Ricardo’s features an all-you-can-eat pizza and garlic bread bar on Monday nights from 5 to 8 for only $8.99.

My friend had never dined at either of the Ricardo’s locations, but I’d dined at the downtown location many times, so I already knew of one pizza that I had to order: the taco pizza.

I’ve had taco pizzas and Mexican pizzas several times before, and just about all of those pizzas have the same flaw: The lettuce and tomatoes are baked with the rest of the pizza. Both Ricardo’s locations bake the thin crust pizza, topped with pizza sauce, refried beans, seasoned ground beef, and mozzarella cheese.

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.

Actually, I recommend trying the taco pizza with and without the salsa and sour cream to determine your own preference. There really is no wrong way. The taco pizza is delicious any way you eat it and is definitely my favorite taco pizza in southeastern Wisconsin.

The crust is crispy and strong enough to hold the toppings. However, some of the fresh toppings will slide off your slice if you tilt it, so pay attention.

Another pizza we tried was the Mediterranean, topped with sausage, onions, black olives, green olives, fresh sliced tomatoes and feta. While I’m usually not a big fan of black olives on pizza or feta cheese, the green olives and tomatoes balanced out the other flavors, so I actually liked this pizza.

Ricardo’s Special is topped with onions, fresh mushrooms and your choice of sausage or pepperoni. In the buffet, they made the pizza with sausage on one half and pepperoni on the other.

The onions were cut very thin and applied sparingly enough that they did not overpower any other toppings. The sauce was thick with a subtle tangy flavor. It’s used on almost every pizza and is mixed with other sauces depending on the pie, such as barbecue or ketchup for the Cheeseburger pizza.

The pepperoni was zesty and delicious, and the sausage was plump, tender, spicy and also very delicious. Ricardo’s sausage is a recipe that is made just for them by a butcher on Milwaukee’s South Side.

My friend pointed out that the service was very attentive. Our plates did not stay on the table long after we finished eating. The hostess, server and another staff member frequently patrolled the dining room, topping off water glasses and picking up dirty dishes.

Ricardo’s pizzas come on thin crusts with a cracker crunch and are available in a 9-inch "mini," 13-inch "small," 15-inch "large" and 17-inch "family" size. Cheese pizzas range from $7 to $16.75, and additional toppings range from $1.10 to $2.85. Extra sauce can be added for 50 cents to $1.05, and anchovies can be added for $1.50 to $4.50.

Besides the pizzas I mentioned, other specialty pies include Eat Your Spinach, topped with spinach, bacon, mozzarella and romano cheese, Hawaiian, veggie and the Greendale Original, which is topped with pesto, mozzarella, basil and a house-made bruschetta mix.

The blanco is topped with olive oil instead of pizza sauce, garlic, romano, mozzarella, ricotta, and fresh Italian parsley. Another one of my favorites is the cheeseburger pizza, which is topped with a pizza sauce and ketchup mix, ground beef, onions, pickle slices, mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Of course you can make it a bacon cheeseburger!

On my last visit to Riverfront Pizzeria & Grill, I ordered a Thai chicken pizza made with peanut sauce. It’s not on the menu at Ricardo’s, and I’m not sure if it’s still at Riverfront, but it is worth checking out, too.

Alas, I’m able to cross off another item from my bucket list. I ate pizza at the original Ricardo’s in Greendale. I’m cool again. Well, I’m almost cool. Hey, I’m working on it, alright?  

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