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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

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Ned's Pizza's "Margarita" pizza.
Ned's Pizza's "Margarita" pizza.
The classic pepperoni and sausage.
The classic pepperoni and sausage.
The dining room is cozy, featuring a combination of booths and tables.
The dining room is cozy, featuring a combination of booths and tables.

In search of the perfect pizza: Ned's

The first time I tried Ned's Pizza was around 20 years ago during a fantasy football draft party. I was a fan instantly, but I didn't live anywhere near their location so over time I forgot about Ned's.

I was re-introduced when I bought my house and drove past it on my way to a friend's house. I remembered how much I enjoyed their thin crust and pizza sauce.

Ned's was started by Ned Hewitt in the late '50s at a North Side location. Over the next few years the family opened another five locations.

In 1969, friends Bob Mayer and Don Strack were seeking a business opportunity and opened a Ned's franchise at 3246 S. 27th St. Eventually the locations owned by the Hewitt family closed after Hewitt became ill.

The recipes for the pizzas remain the same as those established by Hewitt, and they seem to be very popular. Whenever I drive past, the parking lot is full of cars for diners and take-out orders.

My visit was no exception. Three customers were in the lobby waiting for orders and several tables were filled with families enjoying pizzas.

The dining room is cozy, featuring a combination of booths and tables. There is also a TV on the wall above the picture window for those seeking more entertainment than their dining mates provide.

Ned's menu has 13 appetizers to choose from including garlic bread, a pesto tomato cheese bread and chicken wings. Pizzas, salads and sandwiches round out the rest of the menu.

Pizzas are all thin crust and come in 11, 14 and 16 inches for delivery and carry-out. The restaurant menu also offers an 8-inch personal pizza for those dining in. The 11-inch cheese pizza starts at $11.15, with additional toppings starting at $1.35.

Specialty pizzas include the "Hawaiian;" the "Triple P" with pepperoni, pepperoncini and pickles; and the "Spicy PLT" with pepperoni, lettuce, tomato and spices.

I decided to start by trying another specialty, the "Margarita." This one is made without sauce, just cheese, fresh basil, sliced fresh tomatoes, spices and olive oil.

The olive oil seemed to make up for the lack of sauce and helped prevent the pizza from having a dry texture.

The basil and tomatoes added fresh flavors to the pizza, and the spices added a little "zing." This was the first time I didn't feel guilty eating pizza. It seemed so healthy to me.

It's been a while since I had my favorite combo of sausage and pepperoni, so I ordered one of those, too. The pepperoni was crispy and delicious, but mild. The spicy flavors I hoped for were more clearly present in the chunks of Italian sausage.

The crust was thin and crispy, just how I like it, but the true star was the sauce. The sauce had a subtle sweetness to it and was a bit thicker than many sauces I've had before at other pizzerias.

Ned's is another pizzeria that must really be proud of its sauce since it is listed separately on the menu. The menu states that you can order "heavy" – meaning more – sauce under the toppings on your pizza at no extra charge.

However, if you order "extra" sauce, Ned's will also drizzle more sauce over the top of the pizza for a small additional charge.

Next time, I plan to go "heavy" and "extra" with the sauce!

I've been to a few pizzerias around the southeast side of Milwaukee, but some have closed over the years.

Ned's Pizza has become one of my favorite pizzerias to visit. Since this location is entering its 44th year, I don't think I'm alone in feeling that way.

Talkbacks

Kathie | Dec. 20, 2012 at 2:03 p.m. (report)

I have been enjoying Ned's since it opened way back when....A truly fabulous pizza. I agree 100% with everything you said. Sweet sauce and thin crust....the best ever!

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