Here’s a little vignette of Balistreri’s Italian-American Ristorante in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
This is yet more content from the Wisconsin side quest to my May 2023 Chicago pizza jaunt.
Earlier on on the day this was shot I went to Zaffiro’s with my Aunt Mary for lunch. For dinner, she and I met up with my Uncle Jim and cousins Aimee and Patti and honorary cousins David and Corey.
Balistreri’s is my mom’s side of the family’s favorite pizza place. I’d never been, because most of the time I’d visit the Milwaukee area with my parents, we’d go to the now-defunct Maria’s Pizza (my dad’s favorite spot).
Balistreri’s is fantastic. The pizza was just a shade thicker (about 50% thicker) than earlier in the day at Zaffiro’s, but the crust was noticeably lighter and airier—less dense. I still preferred Zaffiro’s, but I was more than satisfied with the pizza here.
And the atmosphere was impeccable. Where Zaffiro’s was more tavern-y, Balistreri’s was more 1950s ristorante-y. It had a well-worn patina but had all the signs of being well taken care of over the decades. You could tell the room had received updates here and there, but the owners knew enough not to mess with the overall old-school vibe of the place.
The last several times I’ve visited Milwaukee, Aunt Mary and the cousins have championed Balistreri’s, but I always defaulted to Maria’s. With Maria’s gone (RIP) and the whole point of this trip being to try new things anyway, I finally heeded their advice. I’m glad I did. I can see why they love this place, and I look forward to visiting again someday.