When I need to get Downtown from Brown Deer after work without risking congestion on I-43, I like taking Highway 57 and following it onto Green Bay Avenue. Traffic moves well, and I get to find different places to eat like Mini's, 6343 N. Green Bay Ave.
The "homemade pizza" sign got my attention. It always does.
Driving by, I couldn't tell if it was bar that served pizza or a restaurant with a bar. It turns out to be both. There is a distinct bar with games, TVs and a mural of Vince Lombardi and the Packers of the Super Bowls I & II era.
There is also a separate dining room complete with booths and covers covered with red-and-white checkered tablecloths. The back wall featured a large mural of the Super Bowl XXXI-winning Packers team. It would have looked great in my living room.
I was greeted by owner, Mike Maniaci. "Mini" was a nickname he had growing up. It started with his last name being frequently mispronounced as "Miniaci" and further developed due to his stature among teammates on sports teams.
When I entered the bar area, I felt like an outsider in a room full of regulars, even though I wasn't feeling any "stares." Maniaci was very cordial and welcoming, nonetheless.
Mini's has been in business for 17 years. Maniaci learned the business while working in his uncle's restaurant. The recipes he uses for the pizzas came from his grandmother.
He gave me a menu, but I really didn't need it. I knew what I was ordering. Heck, you knew what I was ordering â€“ cheese, sausage and pepperoni, please. Much to my delight, I learned that Maniaci made the pizzas himself. I believe there is always a little extra love in the food when the owner makes it.
I perused the one-page menu while I waited for my pizza. It featured sandwiches, subs, salads and sides, such as garlic bread, cheese bread and pizza bread.
The pizzas come in 12-inch and 16-inch pies. The 12-inch cheese pizza is $9.50, with $1.25 for additional toppings. The 16-inch cheese pizza is $12.95 with $1.75 for additional toppings.
When my pizza arrived I was happy to see a thin crust. I didn't ask before I ordered, so I wasn't sure what style crust they made. I bit into the first slice and was surprised at how crispy the crust was. The crust was less crispy toward the center and even a bit chewy.
However, it wasn't the crust that left an impression with me. The homemade sauce was a combination of spicy and sweet. Both were subtle, but still noticeable.
In fact, I think Mini's puts just the right amount of sauce on their pizzas. When I bite into a slice and have to wipe sauce off both sides of my mouth, that's the right amount.
The large chunks of Italian sausage had a great, bold flavor as good as any Italian sausage I've tasted on a pizza. Mini's used to get their Italian sausage from Dentice Bros Italian Sausage, but when they closed up shop, Maniaci had to find another supplier. He said it wasn't easy, but I think he found a good one.
Mini's is the type of business that can go unnoticed if you're not looking for it. I'm glad I took that route Downtown often enough so that I did notice. We should all keep our eyes on the road while driving of course, but feel free to take a little peek every now and then. You never know what you'll find.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Rick Rodriguez
Published May 6, 2015
Mangia Wine Bar received a major remodel a little over a year ago and features a wood burning pizza oven behind the bar, where patrons can enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail while pasta and pizza dough are being made just a few feet away. The combination of Executive Chef Jason Gorman and a wood burning pizza oven warranted a drive south to Kenosha for pizza.
Published April 2, 2015
Bay View has become a popular part of town to eat and drink over the past few years. It's also a place where one can find a pizzeria in the back of a small tavern with a completely different name and a completely different owner. Such is the case with Vinchi's Pizza, which has been located inside The Bubbler at 3158 S. Howell Ave. for the past three years.
Published March 4, 2015
My first experience with Cranky Al's, 6901 W. North Ave., was during the Chili'n on the Ave event in Wauwatosa a few years back. Since then, I've been hearing about their pizza and their doughnuts - the crullers in particular.
Published Feb. 4, 2015
This month's installment of Rick's quest for the perfect pizza takes him to ... the lower level of a Best Western?
Published Jan. 7, 2015
Rick's pizza journey takes him to SALA, where he talks sauce and tries one of the best pizzas he's ever had.
Published Dec. 3, 2014
Rick's constant search for perfect pizza in Milwaukee took him to Brian's in Oak Creek, where things didn't quite go as planned.
Published Nov. 5, 2014
I am one of the many that participates in fantasy football leagues. One year, a league commissioner ordered pizza from Michaelangelo's, at 8330 W. Puetz Rd in Franklin, for our draft party, and I enjoyed it enough to add it to my list.
Published Oct. 1, 2014
I googled Magellan's upon getting a recommendation and learned it offered the self-proclaimed "best pizza in Waukesha." I haven't had great experiences with Waukesha pizza, so I figured I'd give this place a visit.
Published Sept. 3, 2014
Early last year, there was quite a bit of buzz over the transformation of Palermo Villa into Divino Wine and Dine, 2315 N. Murray Ave., and equal buzz about Dean Cannestra taking over the space after closing his previous venture, Libiamo.
Published Aug. 6, 2014
I started working for my current employer six years ago. A few months after I started, one of my team members invited us all over to his Sussex home for a Packers party. Among the popular party foods were pizzas delivered from a nearby pizzeria. The pizza was good enough - and the name was catchy enough - for me to remember them both all of these years later.