I was introduced to Tarantinoâ€™s Pizza by the Entertainment Book. Every now and then IÂ remember that I have one and attempt to give it some use.
Learning my lesson from last week, I confirmed that Tarantinoâ€™s Pizza will not closeÂ within five days of this blog posting before I began asking my probing questions.Â Tarantinoâ€™s Pizza, 2577 S. 68th St., isÂ now owned by his cousin Lorenzo Tarantino II who runs the business with his sister,Â Terri Tarantino.
Lorenzo Tarantino II took over eight years ago after seeking a career change from theÂ Milwaukee Police Department.Â He and his sister grew up working in the fatherâ€™s restaurant, so both have the experienceÂ to manage the pizzeria and incorporate recipes handed down from their father, uncles and cousin.
Tarantino recited the various members of his extended family who were or are restaurantÂ owners, including his aunt, Sally of Sallyâ€™s Steak House, which some of you readersÂ around my age will recognize.
After I placed my order, I watched the magic happen. The dough, which is made freshÂ daily, was run through the dough rolling machine.
Then the sauce is applied, which is also made daily by mixing a family spice recipe toÂ the canned tomato sauce base.
Next the cheese and toppings are spread out among the pie. Terri told me that they alsoÂ cut and grate the cheeses fresh each day, as well.
Pizzas come in 9-, 12-, 15- and 18-inch crust sizes. All pizzas are thin crust and pricesÂ start at $5.15 for a 9-inch small cheese pizza up to $15.05 for an extra large 18-inchÂ cheese pizza. Additional toppings range from $1.30 to $2.50 each.
Tarantinoâ€™s offers daily specials which include a large, one-topping pizza, garlic bread,Â and a two-liter of soda for $13.50 or a large three-topping pizza with garlic bread for $11.95.
I went with the latter, choosing sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms as my toppings. Iâ€™veÂ got to eat my veggies, donâ€™t I?
I was impressed with the value of the specials. The garlic bread was an entire half of aÂ loaf of bread. Butter was applied generously and the bread maintained a fresh and chewyÂ texture while still slightly crisp on the outside. I saved $6.30 off regular price on theÂ special I ordered.
I was very happy to pull a thin crispy crust out of the bag when I got back home. I wasÂ even happier when I bit into the edge of the crust and heard the sound of a crackerÂ crunch.
The small chunks of sausage and slices of pepperoni were spicy and flavorful, but a bitÂ on the mild side of spicy, if that makes sense.
The mushrooms were thick slices of canned product, which were fine, but I would haveÂ preferred fresh mushrooms, as always.
The sauce was thick and took some time for me to figure out if I was tasting spicy orÂ sweet. I eventually came to the conclusion that it provided a subtle sweetness to it.
I did not taste tomato, which was fine with me, but I did taste some of the seasoning. AÂ little more seasoning could have produced a more pronounced flavor and perhaps helpÂ put the sauce on my list of favorites.
The pie had potential to be special. A little more seasoning in the sauce, fresh mushroomsÂ instead of canned and a little more sausage and pepperoni to cover the empty space overÂ the cheese and it could have been right there.
I will admit it is hard to complain about a light load of toppings considering the greatÂ price for the special I purchased.
They do offer a Blanket Pizza, so Iâ€™m guessing that one is heavy on the toppings.
Tarantinoâ€™s specialty pizzas include Barbeque Chicken, Hawaiian, Mexican, and shrimpÂ and black olives. The Hawaiian pizza is topped with sausage in addition to CanadianÂ bacon and pineapple, which is a different take than Iâ€™ve seen before.
Specialty pizzas are available in 9 inches up to 18 inches, with prices rangingÂ from $7.45 up to $19.90.
I was intrigued by the shrimp and black olive pizza, so I ordered a small to give it a try.Â I was hoping for larger shrimp than the baby canned shrimp that were used. The shrimpÂ had a slight "fishy" taste, but the flavor of the shrimp combined with the black olives andÂ the sauce actually worked.
The crust was crispy throughout with a cracker crunch around the edges. I think usingÂ fresh shrimp on the pizza would have enhanced the quality of the pizza, over all.
In addition to pizzas, Tarantinoâ€™s menu includes appetizers, pasta dinners, calzones, hotÂ sandwiches and dinners featuring chicken, ribs and shrimp.
The location for Tarantinoâ€™s places it on the corner of the block in the middle of a quietÂ neighborhood, giving it that quaint neighborhood business feel.
Some of the delivery orders come from area taverns, which provide a nice source ofÂ business.
Outside of Tarantinoâ€™s, youâ€™ll find a table and chairs on a patio where you can enjoy yourÂ pizza on a nice day. It was a bit cool when I visited, but that didnâ€™t stop two women enjoying dinner and conversation on that patio.
Tarantinoâ€™s pizza barely missed on key features I look for in the perfect pizza, butÂ clearly others have become loyal fans of their menu items. Fifty-five years in business isÂ not a fluke.
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