Author Topic: Wisconsin Road Trip  (Read 3114 times)

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Offline Mo

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Wisconsin Road Trip
« on: September 24, 2009, 08:10:36 PM »
Going through the bottom half of WI this weekend. I know I want to go to Cafe Porta Alba, anybody have any other suggestions for good Neo Style? Will be a staying a little north of Milwaukee...


Mo.


Offline jeff v

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2009, 11:02:58 PM »
I lived North of Milwaukee until this Summer, and unfortunately there is not much in the way of Neapolitan style pizza.  >:(

If you can get up to Sheboygan go to Il Ritrovo for some pretty good Neapolitan pizza-
515 S 8th St
Sheboygan, WI 53081-4403
(920) 803-7516   

There is also Pizza Brutta in Madison that I thought was ok, although I have only been once. www.pizzabrutta.com

I went to Pizza Brutta about 3 weeks ago, but haven't been to Il Ritrovo in a year or so.

Hope this helps,

Jeff

Offline Mo

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2009, 11:56:07 PM »
Thanks Jeff, I'll surely check out the Madison joints. Got 54 holes of golf to play in two days so Sheboygan may have to wait...

Offline roberto60

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2009, 10:01:27 AM »
Hi i am roberto caporuscio  from keste  i won tell about another  pizzeria close  the madison that for my opinion   last years was the neapoletan  pizzeria better in wisconsin
the name is caffe four mineral point  wi
 is 45miles  west of madison
 i help training the pizzaiuolo  for two week
caffe portalba is closed now will be open soon in another location

Offline Mo

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2009, 10:27:55 PM »
Hey, thanks Roberto and Jeff, I was able to hit two spots on the trip.

First was Pizza Brutta in Madison. I liked this place walking in, thought they had a really good vibe going with the layout and decor. I really liked the framed logo poster art on the walls and the collegey/underground feel. Brutta appears to have a Woodstone oven, but I can't be certain about that (sure looked like one, though) They make a big deal on their menu about being Authentic Neapolitan Pizza with all Italian names etc...I waited about 8-10 minutes for my pie (8:00 Saturday night, although it was not to capacity), ordered a margherita di bufala. My first impression was 'wow, a lot of sauce and not much mozzarella di bufala' (I was talking to myself for most of the trip). Second impression was that the crust, which had a lot of rich browning, did not have any spotty leoparding or char blisters. The dough was too thick in the middle for what I would consider Authentic Neapolitan Pizza and without the previous stated characteristics, the crust left much to be desired, in my opinion. The tomatoes were a little too acidic for me (which is saying a lot, normally for me the tarter the better, with fresh tomatoes anyway) and there was too much of it. Too little cheese to really taste the Bufala coming through, which, why in the hell order margherita di bufala if youre not going to be able to taste the upgrade? Overall, I would have to agree with what Jeff V posted about Brutta: it was ok.

Second place I hit, at the suggestion of Roberto, was Cafe Four in Mineral Point. This is a little tourist town about halfway between Madison and Dubuque (roughly). Cafe Four is a hotel restaurant (I think) that serves more than just pizza. I showed up a little after regular lunch hours and was sat right next to the oven, which is a Valoriani (Mugnaini). I talked a lot to the kid working the oven and he told me to come back behind the line and check stuff out. Cheese was from Grande, the flour is Caputo and I didn't ask about tomatoes, whic were better than Brutta. The dough balls were small and underproofed but apparently handled alright as my finished pie was decent size. Only thing is it didn't have much of a edge (whats the right term for this, in Italiano??) The crust had the familiar Caputo light, crispness, but due to being a little green, was not as airy as it should have been (and no real oven spring to speak of). Still, it had a nice flavor. I had the Salsiccia with what the menu said was homemade sausage, although the cook I asked was unsure about that. They also make a big deal not only about being Authentic Neapolitan Pizza, but also about using local, organic ingredients. I wanted to ask about this too, like how much of my pizza was local, but decided to give the kid a break, as he was very earnest and nice. I did talk to another of the cooks from the back who was getting ready to make some dough and he said it is yeast-leavened and rises about an hour (although I'm not sure I believe this, they seemed a little unsure of their answers at times). Again, this pie didn't have any charred bits or fermenty spots either, and after watching him cook the pizza, it was obvious to me the oven was way too cool. Took about four minutes or a little longer to come out. All in all, I thought it  too was ok, and could have been better with a little more attention to detail.

Honestly, while these two places were ok, I think Punch pizza in Twin Cities has them beat cold. I ate Punch about 50 times when I lived there and it was always great, and even when not at the top of their game, it is still really good.

So thanks guys, for the recommendations, I had fun trying them out...


All told, I would willingly try both places again.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 10:35:34 PM by Mo »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2009, 10:37:37 PM »
Mo,

The term you are looking for for the Italian rim is cornicione.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 10:39:51 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Mo

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2009, 10:40:22 PM »
Mo,

Here are the active links for the photos: http://i562.photobucket.com/albums/ss64/mohamssut/cafe4001.jpg and http://i562.photobucket.com/albums/ss64/mohamssut/brutta001.jpg.

The term you are looking for for the Italian rim is cornicione.

Peter



Yeah, you got to the post before I changed the photo attachment scheme. And thanks for the Italian, if this was French cooking, I wouldn't be asking...gracias.

Offline jeff v

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2009, 09:22:50 AM »
Mo,

I ordered the same pizza at Brutta, and had the same impression-too much sauce, and it seemed the oven was too cool. I went around 2pm, so I attributed it to being after lunch and they let the oven cool. ??? It's only an hour from me so maybe I'll go back someday.

I will hopefully get to the Twin Cities in the next month and get to try Punch as well.

Jeff

Offline Mo

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2009, 05:38:50 PM »
Mo,

I ordered the same pizza at Brutta, and had the same impression-too much sauce, and it seemed the oven was too cool. I went around 2pm, so I attributed it to being after lunch and they let the oven cool. ??? It's only an hour from me so maybe I'll go back someday.

I will hopefully get to the Twin Cities in the next month and get to try Punch as well.

Jeff

I'm almost positive it was a Woodstone and this could explain the low temp. When I was working with the Woodstone at the club, the max deck temp suggested by the manufacturer was 750-degrees (I think) which led me to a lot of pizzas looking like what I had at Brutta. But the oven at Cafe Four was under-fired as well and that's a Valoriani, so go figure. I was at Brutta at 8:00 on a Sat so it should have been as hot as it was going to get all day...

I'm interested to hear what you think about Punch. They now have several locations all of the twin cities, the original in Highland Park (St. Paul, which, ironically has a woodstone! for all new stores they have the Valorianis), Grand Ave. (St. Paul), Lake Calhoun (Minneapolis), Wayzata (Minneapolis), and University Ave. (kind of straddled between Minneapolis/St. Paul next to the UM campus)...Sit down service is only at the Highland Park location, the others are all quick-service counters...








Offline Mo

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2009, 12:44:09 PM »
Mo,

I ordered the same pizza at Brutta, and had the same impression-too much sauce, and it seemed the oven was too cool. I went around 2pm, so I attributed it to being after lunch and they let the oven cool. ??? It's only an hour from me so maybe I'll go back someday.

I will hopefully get to the Twin Cities in the next month and get to try Punch as well.

Jeff

Did you ever make it to Punch?


Offline Peteg

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2009, 11:29:31 PM »
I'll chime in on this, being a Madison local. I would take Pizza Brutta over Cafe Porta Alba or even Punch any day of the week. I can here what you're saying about their overall flavors, but for me, they've absolutely grown on me. I look forward to going back whenever I'm on that side of town. I've been real happy with the cornicione on every visit. For me, Pizza Brutta tops Mozza, and every other VPN place I've ever been too. It's slightly behind Bianco's in Phoenix IMHO, but darn close. To each is own, I'm real happy to have them in town though. Pete G

Offline Mo

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2009, 09:26:06 AM »
I'll chime in on this, being a Madison local. I would take Pizza Brutta over Cafe Porta Alba or even Punch any day of the week. I can here what you're saying about their overall flavors, but for me, they've absolutely grown on me. I look forward to going back whenever I'm on that side of town. I've been real happy with the cornicione on every visit. For me, Pizza Brutta tops Mozza, and every other VPN place I've ever been too. It's slightly behind Bianco's in Phoenix IMHO, but darn close. To each is own, I'm real happy to have them in town though. Pete G

I'm glad to hear a local's opinion of Brutta. Of course, these are all subjective views and I'll admit it is tough to judge an operation on one visit. I think the differences in crust between Punch and Brutta are significant, though, and because of this will find people firmly planted in either camp. Punch produces a pizza with more leopearding, delicately crispy with a tender, flavorful, irregularly aerated crumb. Bruttas crust is more evenly brown, less leoparding, with denser, more even air pockets an slightly toothier crumb. I suppose it depends on what you're after but I prefer Punch's crust because it reminds me more of euro style artisan type bread preparation...

Like I said, I would certainly try Brutta again if I'm back on Madison...

Mo.   

Offline jeff v

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2009, 10:13:46 AM »
Did you ever make it to Punch?

Oops sorry Mo!

I did make it to Punch-twice, and both times thought it was great. As you stated they are doing really good things, especially with their crust. I didn't get any pics, so I forgot to post here.  :-[ 

Pretty neat to see that area support that many Neapolitan pizzerias!

Jeff

Offline jeff v

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2009, 10:16:05 AM »
I'll chime in on this, being a Madison local. I would take Pizza Brutta over Cafe Porta Alba or even Punch any day of the week. I can here what you're saying about their overall flavors, but for me, they've absolutely grown on me. I look forward to going back whenever I'm on that side of town. I've been real happy with the cornicione on every visit. For me, Pizza Brutta tops Mozza, and every other VPN place I've ever been too. It's slightly behind Bianco's in Phoenix IMHO, but darn close. To each is own, I'm real happy to have them in town though. Pete G

Hey Peteg,

I have been to the new Cafe Porta Alba location-very nice space btw. I agree with you on the pizza being better at Brutta.

Jeff

Offline Peteg

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2009, 03:30:26 PM »
Good talk.. BTW, regarding Brutta, I always get their homemade mozzerella (thats the standard). I tried their buffalo once soon after they opened, and the homemade mozz was much better in my oppinion. I was making a lot of pizzas back then and I would purchase cheese from them as opposed to the fresh Grande at the co-op. The melting characteristics of their cheese is great. Did you either of you ever make it up to Il Ritrovo? That's another gem, if you like Punch, Il Ritrovo is definately worth trying.

Offline jeff v

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Re: Wisconsin Road Trip
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2009, 09:27:57 PM »
I've probably been to Il Ritrovo 20 times-I used to live 20-30 min away. Very good pizza. Their soups and salads are great too.

Jeff

ETA: At Brutta I tried the Bufala I believe, so I will be back to try the home made mozz. Thanks for the heads up.


 

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