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In Dining

Tom Siever, general manager for Balistreri's restaurants, is passionate about pizza. (PHOTO: Julie Lawrence )

Balistreri's represents West Side in pizza contest


October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

Tom Siever started working at the original Balistreri's in Wauwatosa 33 years ago as a cook and dishwasher. Today, Siever manages the two family-owned restaurants, Balistreri's Italian American Ristorante, 812 N. 68th St., and Balistreri's Bluemound Inn, 6501 W. Bluemound Rd.

The 68th Street location opened 40 years ago. In the mid-'90s, owner Jim Balistreri purchased the Bluemound Inn, gave the and opened his second location after giving the place a facelift.

The two restaurants feature the same legendary, thin-crust pizza that critics and consumers have hailed as the city's best. Both locations offer pizzas with standard toppings like sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onions and anchovies, but the Bluemound Inn takes the classic pies a step further, offering gourmet pizzas like the forthcoming white pizza, featuring goat, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, button mushrooms and truffle oil.

The Wauwatosa location is adorned with dark wood and extremely family-focused, with budget-sensitive prices and no bar. (Alcoholic beverages are available, but they are served at the table.) The Bluemound location, on the other hand, is brighter, features a full, sit-down bar and, at times, gets a more spirited crowd.

Both restaurants are unpretentious with a timeless feel and cozy environment. Additionally, both places get insanely busy, especially on weekends.

"We do our best to get everyone seated as soon as possible," says Siever.

Other than the crackery-crust pizza, both Balistreri restaurants feature appetizers -- including their famous eggplant -- as well as a mix of chicken, veal, seafood and steak entrees, sandwiches, salads, sups, desserts and daily specials. Prices range from $5 to $30.

Siever says the friendliness of the staff is a large part of the Balistreri's success, along with consistently high quality ingredients.

"After 33 years, I still love the pizza," he says. "I don't eat it every day, but I still eat a few slices two or three times a week."

Balistreri's is one of four restaurants competing in the OnMilwaukee.com "Slice of Milwaukee" pizza contest. The contest runs during the month of October, which is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com.

The contest challenges Zaffiro's, Classic Slice, Pizza Man and Balistreri's to create a "Milwaukee" pizza. The editors of OnMilwaukee.com will sample the four pizzas, pick the winner and announce it in an article -- which will feature all four of the recipes -- on Oct. 30. The pizzas are judged on taste, presentation, creativity and "Milwaukee-ness."


Talkbacks

upofan | Oct. 29, 2008 at 12:21 p.m. (report)

I hope they win...they're my favorite pizza in the city. Never thought a plain, sausage pizza could taste so good.

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TosaJimBob | Oct. 29, 2008 at 9:25 a.m. (report)

Tommy's a great guy....never did play softball very well, but sure could make a delicious pizza. Best pizza in town!

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