New Pizzeria Coming Downtown
And a second location by popular Cafe Corazon will bring its Mexican fare to Bay View.
It wasn’t long ago that a sizable stretch of downtown was dominated by “Johnny V” Vassallo’s various restaurants, all somehow sporting the Mo names. The best known of those today are Mo’s Irish Pub and Mo’s…A Place for Steaks. Vassallo’s ambitious push for a franchise included a collection of similarly-named establishments, including the seafood-slinging Moceans and a coffee house called Mocha. Both places eventually closed, and Vassallo has since expanded the Irish pub and steakhouse brands to both in- and out-of-state locations.
Late this summer, Johnny V is making another push for downtown domination, and this time he’s got a partner. Vassallo and his brother Jamie Vassallo are teaming up to open Pomodoro Pizzeria & Pub, which will be situated next to Mo’s Irish Pub in the space formerly occupied by Mo’s Cucina, Vassallo’s previous Italian endeavor.
Pomodoro, Johnny’s eighth restaurant, in case you’re keeping score, will feature Wisconsin-centric products, according to OnMilwaukee.com’s Molly Snyder. For starters, the bar-restaurant will offer pizzas made with locally-sourced cheese and at least 18 Wisconsin beers on tap.
You can expect Pomodoro late this August or early September. The restaurant will complete the Vassallo triangle when it opens at 717 N. Plankinton Ave, next to Mo’s Irish Pub and across the street from Mo’s…A Place for Steaks.
Cafe Corazon has become a Riverwest favorite, not to mention a hit with fans of Mexican food. Now it is seeking city assistance to open a second location in Bay View, the Business Journal reports.
The cafe hopes to buy and renovate space at 2392-98 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., which would place it a block or two south of the KK and Lincoln triangle, which now boasts three Mexican restaurants.
“Corazon’s owners are seeking a $224,000 loan through the city to help with the purchase, renovations, equipment and inventory,” the story notes. The total cost is expected to reach about $560,000.
Corazon opened in Riverwest in 2009, at 3129 N. Bremen St., and serves locally-sourced Mexican dishes, including vegetarian and vegan options.
Dongers: A Wisconsin Thing
We’re all adults here, aren’t we? Good.
And you’ve heard of Hooters, right? Then we can proceed.
A Milwaukee school teacher, Ryan Ziegler, is a budding entrepreneur in the Milwaukee food scene. Years ago while attending UW – La Crosse, he and some buddies came up with a running joke about a restaurant that would stand as a ladies’ alternative to Hooters. According to reportage by OnMilwaukee.com’s Lori Fredrich, the concept revolved around men in Speedos serving their eager guests a variation of the house specialty – that’s sausages, of course.
The name of this fictional restaurant?
Ziegler never quite put to bed the idea of sausage-slinging men, and come June, Dongers: A Wisconsin Thing will debut as a human-powered food cart, which Ziegler will start out driving around town by bicycle. The be-Speedoed serving-men remain a joke – for now – but sausages (called “dongers,” of course) remain front and center as the menu’s featured item. To sweeten the deal, all products Dongers serves are locally sourced – as the name states, it’s a Wisconsin thing. From the buns to the ketchup, everything customers pick up at the Dongers cart came from Wisconsin businesses.
Starting out, the Dongers specialty sausages will run customers a steady $7.95. The menu features a number of options like the L-A-X, an Oktoberfest brat topped with bacon chutney and mustard, or the Number 5; it comes topped with corn, chorizo, jalapeño salsa and spicy cheese. Less flashy items, called “Justas” – as in “just a brat” – will run you only $5. Each sausage will come with a side of Sprecher kettle chips and flavored water.
Ziegler will be out with his Dongers by late June. He expects to start offering his services to a wide range of customers, from the professionals near the US Bank Building to the late night partiers along Water Street. If you see Ziegler and his cart full of Dongers, flag him down and, well, see what he’s got.
Ziegler is looking to raise $12,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to fund the food cart.
Big City Greens
Urban farmer Bryan De Stefanis and fiancé Deborah Diaz opened Big City Greens this week. The indoor microgreens farm is located on Milwaukee’s lower East Side at 906 E. Hamilton Street. The facility is a 2500 square foot space, and will open year-round.
Microgreens are a rising movement in food and health circles. Common green plants like spinach or broccoli are harvested in their sprout stages – 14 days or younger. The young plants make for vibrant and flavorful garnishes to salads and other dishes, and are believed by foodies and scientists alike to pack more nutritional punch than their mature versions. Taste better, too.
De Stefanis’ indoor location is only half of a larger operation that includes his recently-purchased Wittenberg farm, where Stefanis plans to grow crops during the warmer months. Stefanis plans to sell his crops through Big City Greens and through CSA programs. They include tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. The operation on Hamilton will grow crops year-round. The simplicity of growing microgreens means his stock is easily replaceable, and he will have a high production rate.
Stefanis spent ten years operating an organic farm in Napa Valley. The safe methods he learned will be put to full use in his Wisconsin operation. His Wittenberg farm will be watered by a spring-fed fish pond on the property, negating any need for commercial fertilizer. As for Big City Greens, Stefanis eventually plans to incorporate a vermicomposting system, which will use worms to consume and recycle waste.
Stefanis currently produces ten varieties of greens, including broccoli, peas, radishes, amaranth, popcorn, and sunflower shoots. He also produces cilantro and basil, and plans to expand his offerings based on demand.
According to Lori Fredrich of OnMilwaukee.com, De Stefanis’ operation has already earned itself a following. He’ signed contracts to provide his produce to Locavore and Dream Dance Steak of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.
According to OnMilwaukee.com, local pizza and salad chain Tazino’s closed the doors at all four of its locations last Friday, April 10.
Tazino’s had one location Downtown, at 735 N. Water Street.
The other three were located in Pleasant Prairie, Menomonee Falls, and Oak Creek. The Tazino’s headquarters is based in St. Francis.
As to why the chain closed up so suddenly, that’s a mystery. We’ll have more as information becomes available.