Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin Pizza’
The other day, I wrote about how one can contribute to good service by pleasant interactions with the wait staff; last night, I observed how an outstanding server can be responsible for the entire evening experience being a good one.
Having driven most every Interstate and their predecessors, the US Highways in this country, I’m always impressed with the number of bars and eateries dotting the landscape of the Upper Midwestern states, particularly Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. You can find some real gems out in the middle of nowhere, and while you wonder where the population is to support these establishments away from city centers, somehow they survive and thrive, some for generations.
Nestled up in the “lake area” of the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, Upper Crust Pizza and bar is parked on County Road H, halfway between Genoa City, the first town over the Wisconsin state line, and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin’s playground for locals and wandering Chicagoans.
With enough seating for a horde, this is a great place to take the family or the fishing expedition, opening at 11 A daily, except closed Monday and Tuesday. Starting in Chicago over 50 years ago, the business relocated to Wisconsin in 1974, and occupies a modern roadside facility, where your children can be kept occupied for hours examining the collection of memoriabilia of all ilks that decorate the walls and ceilings. Pick one item and have your little shavers count how many of that type of item they find on the ceilings.
Upper Crust serves a variety of specialty thin crust pizza, some pastas, Italian beef sandwiches, and wings. The pizza is “Chicago-style” thin (yes, thin crust IS popular in Chicago!), with a crust that starts crispy around the rim and works into chewy towards the center. Red sauce is mild with a slight influence of herbs, and the toppings are fresh and ample. Sausage is hand pulled chunks of flavorful pork. The “genuine Wisconsin cheese” is very generous, and has a nice “pull” to it as your bite progresses through each (square cut) slice.
But the main selling point is Heather, mom by day, server by night, with a personality and service ethic to make your experience truly enjoyable. Doting, without being overbearing, Heather is a great example of a person who understands the primary premise of the hospitality industry.
Thanks, Heather, for ensuring my first stop at the Upper Crust won’t be my last. And I was kidding about the black olives.
You won’t find much about this joint online, and some references point to a website of a similar named shop in Boston. I tried to correct that by posting to all the usual review sites, and here is their menu, as well.
The Screamin’ Sicilian is so new, even the website ain’t working. It’s so new, that even a Google or Bing search of the terms brings you nowhere figuring out what the deal on this pie is. There’s a clue on the box, though, this new effort springs from the loins of the Palermo folks in Milwaukee.
It’s hard to know where to begin describing this pizza, as there are so many different adjectives and a mish-mash of images on the box, one is left to decide how the feel about the whole experience by eating the pie, and I guess that’s how it should be.
The box promises
- Thick rich robust tomato suace
- Wisconin whole milk mozzarella
- Wisconsin parmesan and romano
- Sweet Italian sausage
- Stone-fired artisan crust
- “Gargantuan Boulders of Sausage”
That’s a pretty good run-down. The ingredient list is pretty straight forward as well, no alarming additives or ingredients; pure pork on the sausage, and I’m all for “Gargantuan Boulders” of the porcine product, that’s one of my major complaints about many frozen and pizzeria pies – those microscopic pre-cooked sausage crumbles.
Does the taste live up to the hype? Drumroll………. this pie tastes exactly like………….a pie from a regular pizza shop! Yep. That’s two in a row for me on that score (Vito and Nick’s II was the other). Both of these pies have knocked off a couple of my “all time favorites, I’m never going to buy another frozen pizza but this one, lists.
Eureka (!) is more than a town in California where Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I ate Thai noodles in the hotel bathtub. But that’s another story.
You can safely add Screamin’ Sicilian to your grocery store lists, and at about a quarter an ounce, it’s a good value as well. Would I change anything? I could always nit pick. But for the public masses, it will have wide appeal.
Ovenworks brand frozen pizza is a pie that hails from Eau Claire (“oh clare”), Wisconsin, and proudly brandishes a phrase on their packaging “featuring 100% Wisconsin real Wisconsin cheese and premium ingredients. The company has been in business over twenty-five years, and the pies are shipped out of a factory in tiny Glen Flora, Wisconsin, and the products have limited geographical distribution in the Upper Midwest.
I got the combo, which for Ovenworks means sausage and pepperoni. In the Upper Midwest, this crust is called “thin”, in other parts of the country it would qualify as “ultra thin.” Whichever label you affix to it, it’s the style I prefer.
Instructions call for 10-14 minutes at 425. At 12, it seemed to be done. The first thing I noticed upon taking it out of the oven, was it SMELLED like a pizzeria. A nice surprise. And using ‘shaved’ cheese instead of shredded is brilliant, it provides for a nice edge to edge melt. There is a smattering of cheddar mixed in, I don’t think I have seen that outside of the St. Louis area before, where it is common.
I would like a larger quantity of toppings, but their flavor is good. The sausage is very mild. The sauce has a little tang to it, and the crust is extra crispy on the outer perimeter, and gets chewier as you work your way in. That’s a good thing.
Their full line includes several different choices of crust styles, and some gluten free offerings as well.
I’d never heard of this pie before. It’s a nice addition to the frozen pie choices. I like it.
Back when I was a sprout, and just discovering alcohol, it was kind enough for Wisconsin to lower the drinking age to 18, and my pals and I merely needed to cross a bridge to imbibe. Along Tower Avenue, the former street of glory in Superior, Wisconsin, there were a number of bars, but most notably, the dive called “Tommy Byrnes”, where we got 15 cent tap beers and 45 cent mixed drinks (yep!). Really the only place around to eat was The Elbo Room, with Sammy’s Pizza, but no complaints there.
Superior hasn’t changed much, (except for drink prices), but there are a few food outlets worth checking out (in addition to the Anchor Bar’s superb burgers).
One such notable, off the beaten path (meaning not on Tower Avenue), is the Thirsty Pagan Brewpub, where Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and his Burger Posse stopped in to try the pizza the other night.
On to the pizza, they went with the TPG Special, a 16″ monster with spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. They added green olives, in addition, to this monster topped the $25 price tag for a couple of pounds of gooey cheesey goodness.
The Pagan says their pizzas are “made to order using the finest meats, fresh cut vegetables, and topped with real Wisconsin cheese.” Kawikamedia loved the crust and the cheese that had great stretch/pull w/ every bite.
The Pagan also serves subs, a short list of appetizers, and or course, their local in-house brews, but Kawikamedia was in the mood for soda, so he went with Wisconsin’s own Sprecher Cream Soda, which is brewed in Milwaukee, just down the street from the burger mecca, Solly’s Grill, the birthplace of the “Butter Burger.”
Photos, interior and exterior from the Pagan’s own website, pizza pic by Kawikamedia.