Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin Pizza’
Seems like lately I’ve been hitting “out of the way” pizza places like this one, on US Highway 12, 6.5 miles north of Elkhorn, WI and the junction of 12 and I-43. It’s about a 15 minute drive from the popular Lake Geneva recreation area in Southern Wisconsin.
I’ve driven by this place many times, when I’ve been out on my ‘touring America’ expeditions. My mistake for not stopping earlier.
US 12 is one of my favorite drives, running from the Pacific Ocean to Detroit. Starting in the West, you’ll leave the coast from Aberdeen, where I’ve had a great Salvadorean meal, and plenty of Washington oysters nearby.
You’ll wing your way through Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, and Minnesota before rolling into Western Wisconsin. When you finally arrive at Elkhorn, you’d do well to time your drive to hit opening hours (from 5PM, Mon, Wed, and Thurs, and 4PM Fri, Sat, and Sun). Closed on Tuesdays.
Then menu (pictured below) features Italian appetizers and entrees, pizza, pasta, salads and more. The paper thin crust pizzas are fired in a wood/coal oven, and emerge quickly with a nice char on the crust.
Specialty pies lean towards ‘gourmet’, with ultra fresh ingredients and combinations; we went for one with arugula, prosciutto, and shaved parmesan. We also shared the “Holi Cannoli” which features a rich topping for four cheeses.
Started the meal with the very generous antipasto plate, featuring Italian meats, cheese, olives, peppers, and salad. Complimentary flat bread, foccacia and warm marinara grace every table.
You know I like thin crust, and this one is the epitome of thin. Almost like matzoh. It provides for a very nice crispness, and the ultra fresh toppings make each pie seem light and refreshing, instead of feeling like an anvil in your tummy. Lettuce isn’t something I would usually consider on a pie, but I’m sure glad I tried this one. I’ll be back.
The restaurant was nearly empty when we filed in at 5 PM on a Friday, but within 30 minutes, it was SRO. Despite the crowd, service was fast and professional, and the proprietors stopped by each table once or twice during the meal. Nice touch. They seemed willing and happy to accommodate most any request. Pizzas are one size only and will feed several comfortably. I wish they had a personal sized pie, and I’d be inclined to ‘over-order’ and try the pastas, salads, and such.
If you’re motoring across Wisconsin, or are out for a drive from Madison, Milwaukee, or Chicago, hit Holi Cannoli, at least once! Beer, wine and full bar available.
Holi Cannoli Review
The pizza makin’ elves at Milwaukee’s Palermo Pizza are at it again. Fresh on the success in recent years of their Screamin’ Sicilian brand, here comes their take on a “pub style” pizza, under the name of P’mos. In addition to writing about “Screamin,” I’ve also written about Palermo’s history and their “classic” brand.
I will be the first to admit I’m not really sure what “pub style” pizza is supposed to be like, unless they are referring to pizzas found in bars – many of the frozen pizza lines hatched out of Wisconsin and Minnesota got their start being sold only in bars. The pizza manufacturer would supply the drinking establishment with a small counter top oven, and sell them frozen pies to bake on demand for their customers. Luckily the interwebs knows all, the it appears that one might define “pub pizza” as “born on Chicago’s south side as an alternative to Chicago’s traditional deep dish, with a cracker thin crust, sweeter sauce, a little more salt, and cut into squares instead of triangular slices.” Alrighty then. Palermo’s marketing pitch for the line is “Palermo’s took Pub Style pizza to a new level starting with a crispy thin crust made to highlight the hand selected toppings. Each of the P’MOs varieties is over loaded with fresh ingredients and smothered in
rich Mozzarella cheese.”
This is certainly the era of new “styles” of pizza, what with Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Little Caesar’s leading the way with myriad new crust options. Yesterday, Little Caesars announced a “bacon wrapped” crust. Pizza Hut has come up with all sorts of disgusting flavor combinations for its crust, like “honey-siracha” or some such. If the chains were making one for me, I think I’d have to go for “bacon wrapped cheese stuffed pretzel crust.” That’d be over the top.
I picked up the sausage variety of P’Mos, my local grocery had stocked four varieties: cheese, pepperoni, sausage and supreme. Not present was the “Combination,” which is topped with both sausage and pepperoni. My recollection is the price point was $7 or north of that, making it a competitor in the range of their own Screamin’ Sicilian, and other “premium” frozen pies. This is in contrast to the classic Palermo pies, which I have purchased for as little as 6 for $10, incredibly cheap.
Removing the wrapper, I am impressed with the appearance of the ‘shaved’ cheese, instead of sprinkled, has the possibility of providing a nice melt. I am hopeful that the sausage will be as good as the large chunks found on the “Screamin” line, although they are smaller. Cheese is listed as the first ingredient on the label, which is encouraging. A typo on the ingredient list (a missing ‘paren’ mark) makes it difficult to tell you all of the ingredients in the sausage, but they start out with an all pork and herb/spice mix. There is none of the dreaded “mechanically separated poultry” in the meat. Whew.
While I usually tell you where the pizza was made, according to the USDA legend on the package, this inspection sticker bears no plant number, and the reverse label says “distributed by Palermo,” which could well mean manufacturing is contracted out to a plant not owned by the company.
Baking instructions are middle shelf, 400, 14-18 minutes.
I popped mine out at 17. The pizza lives up to the internet definition stated above, with a thin ‘cracker like’ crust, sweeter sauce. Lots of cheese for a frozen pie, real cheese with nice “pull.” The sausage is extremely mild. I personally like my Italian sausage heavy with fennel flavor. In the end, this is a good frozen pie. Top 5, in any case. This one goes into my regular rotation when I am buying frozen pies.
But Palermo, suggestion? Your ‘cracker crust’ is more like matzo than saltines, IMHO. So how about a line of kosher certified pizzas? There’s a segment for you. You can call it “Lotza Mozza Matzo!!”
If you’ve a hankering for Chicago pizza, pub or deep dish, you can have it delivered right to your home, shop here.
P’Mos Pizza Review
Well known for a few things, including the American Birkebinder cross country ski race, annual world lumberjack contests, and a nearby former hide out of Al Capone, the ville of Hayward, Wisconsin is nestled among pines and birches on rolling hills in Northwestern Wisconsin. Numerous lakes dot the landscape and it’s a regular fisherman’s paradise.
Trail’s End Resort is on nearby Lake Couderay, has cabins and boats for rent, camp sites and a nice lodge bar (“Michelle’s”) that features live music, (like Todd Eckart) that serves lunch and dinner daily with an emphasis on house made items from local ingredients.
Entrees enjoyed included the rib dinner and a thin crust bacon-topped pizza. Both got raves. The ribs are massaged with a house-made rub before being slow-smoked and finished on the grill; many of the meats served at Trails End (including the bacon) are from the provider 6th Street Market, in nearby Ashland, WI, who have been cranking out specialty meats and sausages for 25 years.
Here’s their full menu.
Trails End Resort
Continuing to cut a swath through small Midwestern frozen pizza manufacturers, I happened upon Luigi’s brand, manufactured in the small town of Belgium, WI. I’m not able to find much information about it online, nor do they have a website. I’m going to make a giant assumption here and opine this is yet another manufacturer that started out as a supplier to bars and restaurants and made the leap to retail. Stop the presses! Upon further investigation, with a ‘similar logo’ and geographical proximity, it may be these pies originally came from the loins of a nearby restaurant, Luigi’s of Sheboygan. Maybe.
It’s also one of those times when I reached for one product and ended up bringing home another; usually I go for “all meat”, but ended up grabbing a supreme, which is topped with sausage, pepperoni, onion, green and red peppers. The sausage bits are small and pre-cooked. The quantity of toppings is adequate; the pie falls into what I would determine to be a medium price range at about $7 per pie, which ways in at about 25 ounces, or 28 cents per ounce, or 87 cents for each of the eight slices (recommended servings). Further, each slice contains 20 % of your daily sodium content. Whoops!
Instructions call for 15 – 18 minutes at 400; they further state that since ‘oven temperatures may vary’, one should rely on appearance, rather than timing, and bake until the cheese bubbles and the crust is brown.
After 15 minutes, the cheese was not ‘bubbling’, so I went the distance with another 3 minutes. And then another two and a half minutes, I must need my oven temp calibrated!
The result is pictured below. It’s a thin and crispy ‘Upper Midwest style’ crust, but it broke in a couple of places coming out of the oven. No big deal.
Coming out of the oven, the aroma was similar to a pizzeria, which is a plus with me, but also noticeable was the scent of the green peppers, which I believe in the “a little goes a long way” with that topping. Not my favorite. Cheese and sauce were good, the cheese had a nice “pull” to it. Cracker crust lived up to its billing.
Sausage? Not so much. There are very few frozen pizzas that have raw sausage, I get that, but the pre-cooked crumbles, especially this small, have a taste that just doesn’t sit well with me. This sausage isn’t very seasoned, either, tasting more like pure ground pork. That’s ok, just not at the top of my list. Pepperoni did not char or cup, indicating a better quality pepp than many suppliers.
Would I buy it again? Sure. While it’s not at the top of my list for frozen pizzas, it is soooooooooooo much better than so many brands. I recommend you try it, though I suspect it might be a bit difficult to find outside of the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois areas.
Luigis Pizza Review
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 yet. 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. (2014 Update: site and search now operable). 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 melange 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 (Chicago’s 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.
screamin sicilian pizza review
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 for 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.