Crisp Pizzabar and Lounge
The third incarnation of a restaurant at 1323 E. Brady Street on Milwaukee’s east side is Crisp Pizzabar & Lounge. Having been open for about a month now, owners Ian Pesch, Rob Settecase and Cris Grant held its grand opening a week ago. We have been waiting for what has seemed an eternity for something to re-open in that location after its original occupants went belly up not too long after the building was constructed.
We remember dining in the original restaurant, Vucciria, only once before it closed, and we were too late to be able to try Coco Bella, the second restaurant to occupy the space, before it closed too.
Mr. and Mrs. M. decided to get into this one sooner rather than later!
Cozy has never been the right word to describe the interior of this building. But that’s not a bad thing at all – its high and wide, multi-storied, atrium-like internal dimensions lend it originality among other restaurants in the Greater Milwaukee area. Refreshed with new décor of dark wood and flat, metallic colors juxtaposed against bar and table stools reminiscent of the former Soviet Union’s Sputnik space program, customers are warmly welcomed into the new restaurant’s soaring interior by the conspicuous flames of the huge pizza oven located all the way to the back of the place. A young staff cheerfully tends to their customers who enjoy a nice mix of popular tunes piped in overhead at a conversation-friendly volume.
On the menu is one’s choice of gorgeously-artisan, New York-style pizza served in $10 personal-sized pies and $20 large pies, or by the slice for $5. The crispy, yet substantially bready, oven fired crust on the pizza served here is in serious contention with that of Transfer Pizzeria Café for the title of “best crust in town.” We each ordered a personal pizza with the standard three toppings (extra toppings for just $1 each for personal pizzas and $2 each for the large). These are not your average “personal” sized pizzas, spanning at least a good ten inches in diameter on average (we each had half a pizza to take home for later!).
The variety of toppings is impressive, featuring garlic cream, lamb sausage, prosciutto, shrimp, eggs, pecorino (Italian sheep cheese), walnuts, truffle oil and many other deliciously unique choices. If you don’t see a particular topping on the list, just ask and they may be able to accommodate a special order, as was the case with Mr. M.’s request for sliced green olives on his pizza. Mr. M. started with the spicy tomato basil bisque soup for $5 which he found bright, tasty and comforting. Mrs. M. opted for crisp truffle dough sticks served with flaked, aged parmesan for $4 that smelled and tasted just like Native American fry bread. They were wonderful, the order was huge and we both gobbled them right down!
But pizza and other Italian favorites are not all that is offered on the menu at Crisp: Reuben sandwiches are available for $8, as well as a lamb or turkey burgers for $9, Yukon gold potato fries for $5, and, of all things, Jack Daniel’s braised fire roasted ribs served with southern slaw for $8 and Guinness lamb and rib Irish stew for $5 (can you say YUM?). From the fully-stocked bar, Mr. M. whet his whistle with a couple of glasses of Schlitz from the tap at $3 each, and Mrs. M. got a diet Coke (and a refill) for only two bucks. We call those reasonable prices, to be sure.
Crisp Pizzabar & Lounge offers a great deal at a vibrant location. Our only reservation is that Crisp should replace the cheap, tin flatware and the photocopied paper menus with nicer flatware and sturdy, attractive menus more befitting the place’s not-your-typical-pizza-joint style. They merit your support, so check them out for lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or stop in for dinner after 5 p.m.
We really hope that “the third time’s a charm” for this location and that Brady Street will have Crisp around for a very long time to come!
1323 E. Brady Street, Milwaukee
Major credit cards accepted
Mmm . . . Now we’re hungry for some unique, Italian breadsticks! Here’s our recipe for absolutely scrumptious puff-pastry breadsticks:
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (we use Pepperidge Farms brand)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
A little extra virgin olive oil and/or melted butter
Italian seasonings of your choice (dried oregano, garlic powder, parsley, basil)
Preheat oven to 400° F. Thaw puff pastry according to directions (leave out 30 minutes on the counter). On a greased cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment paper), lay the sheet of puff pastry out flat and cut it into nine long, even strips (from top to bottom). Brush both sides of each strip with olive oil or butter, then sprinkle both sides of each with a little grated cheese and seasonings, coating them well. Twist each strip nice and fancy (like long, rotini noodles), then bake for 12 minutes, or until golden.