Glorioso’s — a Milwaukee gem
We have been waiting quite a while now to bask in the glory of a gigantic new Glorioso Brothers Italian Food market, slated to occupy the old Brady Street Pharmacy building, which just happens to be across the road from the original store location at 1020 E. Brady. Having been projected to open in March of this year, what’s the hold up?
According to Felix Glorioso, that would be new lending regulations —presumably the new federal rules that went into effect in February this year—that make it insanely complicated to get a loan these days, compared to how it was just a year ago. Unfortunately, Felix Glorioso and his beautiful family are in a quagmire of red tape at the bank, making the process of getting their extremely successful iconic Milwaukee business moved into the new location a royal headache.
As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”
We cannot write about this Milwaukee landmark without getting a lump in our throats. Mrs. M. remembers shopping there when she was a young, single lass living in a rented flat just down the street from the place in her early college days. Mr. M. recalls being blown away by the small market’s diverse, authentic Italian offerings very early into his move to Milwaukee about twenty years ago. It should hold a very special place in every Milwaukeean’s heart.
Mr. M. remembers complaining once that there were no ready-sliced mushrooms in the store for a particular recipe for which he was just too lazy to slice up a few ounces, so old Nonno Glorioso took a carton of whole mushrooms to the backroom and sliced them up by hand while telling Mr. M. a couple of stories about doing business there in the olden days. Mr. M. was humbled by that act of total customer satisfaction, making him feel so dirty with guilt that he needed a shower afterward!
Enter the old shop to find at your fingertips shelves packed with cartons of salted, dried ceci (pronounced “che-chee”)a.k.a. garbanzo beans, cashews (very yummy!), almonds, other nuts and exotic candied sweets. Then there’s the freezer section with delectable raviolis ready for you to take home and serve with any of the imported tomato sauces sold at the store. And look! Pizza dough balls that you take home, thaw, roll out with a sprinkle of flour on your counter, then spread with a nice layer of sauce and your choice of toppings. Too lazy to do that? Then take your pick of ready-bake frozen pizzas! Gelato? What flavor?Dried Italian pasta at a reasonable price? For crying out loud! What kind don’t they have? Italian birra in their refrigerated section —that’s “beer” to us — and so many nice Italian wines and liqueurs are here. There’s also a limited, but very fresh produce selection that will suit most recipes. Where else are you going to be able to score a huge bag of fresh basil for under two bucks in this town?
Everyday items await you on the shelves, like canned green beans, scouring powder, hand soap, Sicilian tuna, cans of ready-serve soups and things like pickles, tinned seafood antipasto (from Italy) and imported candy.
Dried spices abound and fresh, Italian cheeses are sold by the hunk or in small, grated amounts. Fresh bread is brought in from Peter Sciortino’s Italian bakery just across the street and an assortment of other bakery items are available, like spicy croutons (“Roman candles”) and garlic bread. Mama Mia!
And oh God, the deli counter: Spicy, succulent salads abound, plus Italian originals like arancini (pronounced “are-an-cheeny”) which are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, filled with meat or cheese and tomato sauce. Looking for the best muffuletta sandwich outside New Orleans? Look no further than Glorioso’s deli counter! It’s almost too good to be true.
Now, imagine all of the above multiplied by the enormous size of the Brady Street Pharmacy building! SHEESH! How can anyone say no to that?
The latest update has Felix Glorioso being overheard saying that they will probably not be moved into the new location until the end of this year. Well, better late than never. Pray, everyone, for the Glorioso family’s successful transition this year!
1020 E. Brady St.
Major credit cards accepted
Italian Meatballs (makes 4)
½ lb. ground meat (ground beef, ground pork and/or ground veal) – we use 6 oz. ground sirloin plus 2 oz. mortadella (bologna –preferably with pistachio nuts) or sopressata (spicy, Italian salami), ground well in a food processor
¼ cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs (just use plain bread crumbs with a dash each of dried parsley, basil & oregano)
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/8 cup milk
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon each of garlic powder & onion powder
¼ teaspoon each of salt, ground, black pepper and ground, red/cayenne pepper
A little olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)
Preheat your oven to 350° F
Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a large bowl; shape into four, equal-sized balls. Place the meatballs in a shallow baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake on the middle oven wrack at 350° F for about 45 minutes, until nice and brown.
Serve on top of big plates of pasta dressed with Italian tomato sauce (see the second recipe* below). Sprinkle liberally with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and serve with the puff-pastry breadsticks we gave you the recipe for in our April, 14, 2010 review of Crisp Pizzabar & Lounge.
*Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce
Sparkling and refreshing, this is a recipe for lovely, light tomato sauce that Mr. M. picked up from an Italian Army cook, Sergeant Geraldo Natale, whom he befriended while stationed in northern Italy in the Veneto region on temporary duty back in the ‘80s with an Italian Army intelligence unit (don‘t laugh!). Just a little of this sauce goes a long way and will dress a lot of pasta, polenta, gnocchi or risotto. The recipe makes enough to divide evenly between three, quart-sized freezer bags with two servings each, so double it to freeze six quart bags’ worth. To thaw, just leave out on the counter a half hour (tossing it into freshly-boiled pasta will heat it right up), or microwave 30 seconds on the defrost setting.
2 lbs tinned, Italian imported whole San Marzano tomatoes (Mr. M. uses Cento brand) or about 2 – 3 lbs fresh, peeled tomatoes
1 large yellow or white onion peeled and sliced in half
2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole (Mr. M. uses about five cloves and slightly crushes them)
2 oz unsalted butter, or 4 – 5 tablespoons olive oil (or a combination of both works great)
Salt and black pepper to taste (Mr. M. uses 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper)
Fresh, whole basil leaves, to taste (never dried – optional, but good). Mr. M. uses about 2 oz. total (roughly half a cup)
1. Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and chop them well with short pulses – blending them for too much time at once whips air into them and turns them pink (and you don’t want that)!
2. Place the tomatoes and their juices in a large saucepan, adding in the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. If using basil, also add in half of it now and the rest about five minutes before the sauce is finished cooking. Uncovered, let the sauce simmer very gently for 50 minutes to an hour – take care that you do not allow the sauce to come to a boil (just let it gently percolate and bubble).
3. Discard the onion halves and garlic cloves, swirl in the butter/olive oil and the remaining basil. Simmer for another five minutes. Check the seasoning and serve (or freeze immediately for another time)!