Carini’s LaConca d’Oro – What other Italian restaurants try to be
When was the last time that you were at a nice restaurant and the chef came out to personally check on you and the other diners and to spend valuable kitchen time chatting? We’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants from New York to Paris, and rare is it when this occurs! But it was a splendid touch that capped off a wonderful, casual/fine-dining trip to Carini’s LaConca d’Oro, which is tucked away at 3468 N. Oakland Ave., just south of the Milwaukee/Shorewood city limits. (You know, that little Italian restaurant you’ve probably passed a hundred times in your car right by Otto’s Beverage on the upper east side.) Owner/operator Chef Peter Carini, who immigrated to the United States from Sicily at age 14, has the cure for all of us who still mourn the closing of Giovanni’s Restaurant that once dominated the corner of Van Buren and Wells.
The large, but cozy interior is rather well masked to busy people speeding by in the traffic out front by the restaurant’s rather inconspicuous exterior. Guests are welcomed into the restaurant, which opened in 1996, by a warmly decorated front bar area from where the two main dining rooms (which sparkle with tasteful touches of Italian photo art) are visible. The renovated front area also allows some open-air dining in warm weather when the giant street-front windows can be comfortably opened wide. (We can’t wait to enjoy that when the weather finally warms up!)
The menu includes something for everyone. There’s a wide range of classic Italian dishes, Sicilian specialties with lots of fresh seafood, vegetarian dishes, American favorites, a Friday fish fry and an Italian lunch buffet that is served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $8.95 to $15.
For dessert, we opted for the tiramisu. With one-of-a-kind, warm layers of creamy, café goodness, it was the best tiramisu Mrs. M. said she had ever eaten.
Definitely one of the east side’s best-kept secrets, Carini’s LaConca d’Oro is what a lot of other Italian restaurants want to be. Providing one of the best Italian dining experiences to be found in the metro area, it’s a nice, affordable way to escape the cold and live a sunny moment in Sicily right here in Milwaukee!
Carini’s LaConca d’Oro
3468 N. Oakland Ave., Milwaukee
Major credit cards accepted.
Mr. M. is a huge aficionado of Italian cuisine. The following is one of his recipes for classic, quick and easy-to-prepare Italian pasta and sauce.
Pappardelle with Spicy Sausage & Garlic-Herb Sauce
8 ounces pappardelle pasta nests – the really wide kind of pasta ribbons
½ pound hot/spicy Italian sausage meat, bulk or removed from the casing
1 packet Knorr brand Garlic & Herb sauce mix
1 pint milk (fat-free works great)
1 tablespoon butter
1. Boil the pasta according to directions, usually only seven minutes, stirring very sparingly due to its delicate nature.
2. Brown the sausage meat in a small skillet, using a fork to roughly break it up (not as fine as taco meat).
3. Prepare the Knorr sauce using a whole pint of milk; let it simmer for the prescribed time in the skillet of fried sausage meat (three minutes – but it can sit on low heat until everything else is ready).
4. Plate the pasta with kitchen tongs directly from the boil-water; let most water drip off before putting on plates.
5. Drizzle the plated pasta with the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.