Cari Taylor-Carlson

DiModa Has Innovative Italian Food

Delicious dishes, attractive atmosphere and dog-friendly.

By - Jul 20th, 2017 03:48 pm
DiModa Pizza & Hotspot. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

DiModa Pizza & Hotspot. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

I did not expect to like DiModa. When I heard Trocadero would be replaced by a wood-burning pizza joint, my reaction was, “Just what the neighborhood doesn’t need, one more pizza-centered restaurant.” Was I wrong! I didn’t count the weeks, but noted the speedy turn-around from French-centric to Italian. In a flash, the Brady Street neighborhood, my neighborhood, gained a restaurant where pizza may be the star attraction, but there is much more to like.

I start with brunch at DiModa on a Saturday on the spacious patio where my companion and I nab a table in the shade. We sit close to a central fountain surrounded by flowers and above us, fans keep air moving, a nice touch, albeit unnecessary on this 70-degree afternoon. Grasses and flowers in pots scattered on both the patio and the sidewalk make this an inviting place to linger, while we sit in the middle of a well-tended garden.

We order from the brunch menu, only available on weekends, a list of 10 specials. Limoncello French Toast with honey ricotta and basil strawberries topped with limoncello syrup, and Belgium waffles with Nutella are hard to pass on, but I’m headed for savory. I can’t resist a good benedict, especially when there are four unique choices: Heirloom Tomato; Lobster and Prosciutto; the Traditional; and the strange Benedict Fried Meatballs. I go for the fried meatballs thinking, “Really? You must be kidding.” Thanks to my adventuresome palate, I’m rewarded with one of my all-time favorite brunch entrees. The roasted tomato hollandaise mingled with the poached eggs and the meatballs have redefined eggs benedict for me, the dish is a true tour de force.

My companion’s Belta is a BLT with the addition of a once-over-easy-egg and avocado along with the usual, bacon, lettuce and tomato. All this stuffed inside toasted sourdough makes a meal and a half. It comes with crisp shoestring fries served in a cast-iron dish to keep them toasty warm. “A nice touch,” she says.

We notice a couple with a dog. Our server explains the patio is a dog-friendly zone where treats and water are available for friendly canines.

I return a few days later for lunch with great enthusiasm. This time we’re seated on an inside patio as it has rained recently. I mention this because it’s one of many places to dine at DiModa, where European charm makes them inviting, no matter where you sit.

From Starters, we order Roasted Stuffed Cherry Peppers. We should have paid more attention to our server who says, “They’re pretty spicy.” That’s an understatement! We anticipate cherry peppers, sweet, succulent. We get succulent, fiery, jalapeno peppers, not cherry peppers. We like the stuffing, fennel sausage, onion, and bread crumbs, but those peppers, oh my god! Not only did my mouth explode, but the burn traveled down my throat until tears spilled down my face. They should either come with a warning or, they should be cherry peppers as advertised. We are in pain. My companion takes the remaining four home to her husband.

The rest of the meal is flawless. I want a Margherita Pizza, but our server says the kitchen ran out of basil. We think they should send a runner to Glorioso’s a few blocks east to resupply. We tell the server we could have brought some from our gardens.

Fuggedaboutit pizza. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Fuggedaboutit pizza. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Instead, I order the Fuggedaboutit, a kitchen sink choice with sausage, buff mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and pecorino. The chef substitutes parsley for the basil. I like everything about my pizza: the hint of smoke from the wood burning oven; the irregular shape; the crisp edges; the mix of flavors in the toppings; the crust. Normally I discard extra crust. This one is as good as the rest of the pizza, chewy, light, impossible to leave on the plate.

My companion orders the Sardinian Style Shrimp Fregola with blistered grape tomatoes, fennel sausage, and pecorino. Fregola, little balls of seminola dough that have been toasted in the oven, resemble barley. The flavor is pure Italian. The dish comes with seven juicy shrimp and a dozen or so tomatoes hiding in the pasta. My companion insists I try a bite of tomato and sausage together to experience an explosion of flavors in my mouth. This could be addictive.

DiModa also has a menu dedicated to gluten-free. People who need that special diet have many choices including six varieties of pasta, salmon, pork chops, chicken, several starters, and for dessert, Honey Roasted Figs, Italian custard, and gelato. In addition, all the pizzas are available gluten-free.

I’m sorry to lose Trocadero; I’m delighted to welcome DiModa to the neighborhood.

On the Menu

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The Rundown

  • Location: 1758 N. Water St.
  • Phone: 414-331-0020
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sat-Sun.
  • Website:
  • UM Rating: stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)

11 thoughts on “Dining: DiModa Has Innovative Italian Food”

  1. Lyn Evans says:

    Cari Taylor-Carlson’s review of DiModa Pizza & Hotspot was the best review I’ve ever read from a food critic. She is such an excellent writer that I could taste and feel the experience. Great review! And I agree with every word.

  2. Christina Zawadiwsky says:

    Solely because of your article, now I want to try DiModa for brunch, and I’ll bring along Kalyna, my purebred white German shepherd! Thank you for the review!

  3. April says:

    Awesome! I ate on the patio and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere.

  4. 01000011 says:

    What an oddly written article. I don’t think I’ve ever read a restaurant critique written in the narrative present tense. It’s a weird and unnatural choice.

    This author’s previous work, in my opinion, is substandard compared to the quality seen on the rest of this site. She’s easily impressed by flash and gimmick, and derides restaurants that offer staid quality and authenticity. This review does nothing to change my perception of the substance of her work. I’ve been to DiModa. It’s the sort of restaurant that won’t be in business in two years.

  5. Avid Reader says:

    Responding to Binary 01000011: The article was excellent and accurate, and the writing was superb. I could almost taste the delicious items the writer was describing. You sound like someone who has an ax to grind; not someone who wants to give accurate feedback on a restaurant review. I don’t know how your comment contributes to this discussion and I would suggest you go to Grammarly to correct the tenses and poor sentence structure you used to communicate your negativity. BAD

  6. 01000011 says:

    Avid Reader (who I suspect is the author anonymously posting): Feel free to check my comment on Grammarly. I doubt you’ll find anything.

    I don’t think I have an axe (axe is the correct spelling, by the way) to grind. Rather, I’m a fan of this site and read it frequently, and Ms. Taylor-Carlson’s writing and reviews bother me. Her reviews are not up to the standard I expect from this site; they’re amateur at best. From her random tense changes to having her friends post gushing comments on every article to the inane descriptions of her experiences at the restaurant, she besmirches the name of this publication each time she writes.

    If she wants an echo chamber where her friends lavish praise on her writing, nobody disagrees with her assessments, and she’s immune to stylistic criticism, perhaps working as a professional critic isn’t the wisest choice. One can get all of those things (and likes!) on FaceBook, which is where the rest of us go for validation.

  7. Avid Reader says:

    Dear 01000011,

    I can’t believe I’m allowing your vapid comments to take up any more of my time. But, that said, I just need to tell you where you’re wrong. (1) I’m not the author, although I wish I could write as fantastically as she does; (2) Her review of DiModa is outstanding, fun and accurate; (3) “Ax” is the preferred spelling (“axe” is a centuries-old preference, the popular modern spelling is “ax” … and if you really used Grammarly, the site would have corrected your “AXE” to “AX”). Try it!

    Now! Speaking for the intelligent and active readers of this site, please try to avoid infiltrating every comment with your personal unhappy dourness. We’re here to learn something or be entertained. Your statements about hating everything offer neither.

  8. Bruce Murphy says:

    To 01000011: Speaking as the editor of Urban Milwaukee, I’d like to say a couple things: first off, the defense of writer Cari Taylor-Carlson (above) was not written anonymously by her. Secondly, Taylor-Carlson has published books and written dining articles and reviews for several different publications going back a couple decades. We’re happy to have her. Thirdly, speaking as the person who edits Urban Milwaukee stories, I’m not aware of any grammatical errors in her stories. We do make mistakes to be sure, and friendly readers often note when we miss on spelling or other matters, which we appreciate and correct as quickly as we can.

  9. Chuck says:

    The guy that played Screech on Saved by the Bell published a book too. That doesn’t mean it’s any good. But I’m glad to hear you’re happy to have her. Each review seems to be more unintentionally hilarious than the last. Keep ’em coming.

  10. L. Rollings says:

    5+ books, thousands of reviews, huge fan base and national exposure makes me think I’m not wrong in thinking she’s a pretty darned good writer about a lot of things she’s immersed herself into. She’s got the pulse on this town and you can take her suggestions to the bank.Anyone who thinks there’s another writer in town who compares to Cari Taylor-Carlson, I’d say you need to produce that person for us to read. So far, I haven’t found one. Oh! And DiModa is amazing, was there today for Brunch. This place will be an institution, not a pizza joint going away. in 2 years. It’s so much more than a

  11. Observer says:

    Those are some truly amazing comments!

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