Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Memoriam: Artichoke a la Mode Pizza

When I awoke (literally) this morning to the news that one of our favorite pizza joints (and a Milwaukee icon) was ablaze, I was in shock.

Pizza Man has always been our "go to" restaurant.  It was one of the places we chose to mark any number of celebratory occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, job offers).  It was the place where we'd go when life had taken us for a ride, and left us yearning for familiarity and the comfort of an old friend. (how many tear-filled sessions I've had, drowning my sorrows in deep dish pizza, I may never know).  It was also one of our favorite spots to dine with friends and family.

Seems there was NO occasion that didn't suit the Pizza Man.  And we weren't the only ones to think so.  There was always a wait. I can't count the number of times we found ourselves standing around waiting for a table (though, in most cases, we simply left the friendly hostess our cell number and grabbed a beer or two over at the Eastsider, a neighborhood bar just across Oakland Avenue).  And that fact alone should be seen as a testament to the quality of both the food and the atmosphere -- which included an old wooden door (which opened and closed thanks to the power of pulleys and weights), darkly stained wooden booths, and walls hung with shelves of jars featuring Italian specialties like olives, roasted red peppers, and canned beans.

If a comparison is even fair, Pizza Man was the historic equivalent of Lombardi's (New York), Santarpio's (Boston), and Giordano's (Chicago).  The interior of Pizza Man itself was a historic marker, since it became a Milwaukee tradition to write or carve one's name or other messages on the wooden booths.  The restaurant was also known for its huge wine list, which included over 500 wines from California, Washington, and Oregon.

When we weren't ordering Pizza Man's delicious deep dish pizza (sometimes just their plain old cheese, sausage, mushroom & onion -- which was simply incomparable), we'd often order a pie affectionately referred to as artichoke a la mode -- a thin crust variety topped with mozzarella cheese, artichokes, generous dollops of cream cheese, and slices of fresh tomatoes and garlic.

This wonder of a pizza became one of our absolute favorites -- so much so that we decided to recreate a riff on the original at home.  A sourdough crust replaced the thin crust, and roasted cherry tomatoes stood in for the fresh tomato slices... but this pizza was a pretty great stand-in for the real thing.

In memory of Pizza Man, all the good times shared -- and, hopefully, all the good times to come:
Artichoke a la Mode Pizza

Other great memories and photos also available on ThirdCoast Digest.

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  1. My mouth is watering, wow, what a great place to go and great pizza!

  2. I've felt bad about this all day... And the only thing I ever ordered was that artichoke pizza! I'd try others if someone else ordered, but that one was it for me... But you forgot about the cream cheese! I may have to make one of these too!

  3. Oh ack! I feel your pain, Lo. We had an absolute home away from home diner in Sac that we frequented, and an amazing Asian restuarant in Minneapolis that was unmatched. We were known by name at both places..and both went under. (Not to fire, but probably because of the overwhleming blood, sweat, and tears that go into running a restaurant.) It's like having a best friend move away. Hopefully, your pizza joint will rebuild.

  4. That is quite a shame and so sad - its not easy when eateries that are embedded with good family memories are no more. I hope they recover and reopen.

  5. Rumor on twitter as of this afternoon is that the owner of Pizza Man will rebuild -- though it's difficult to imagine the place all shiny and new. That food can be recreated, but the space... well, that's a loss all its own.

  6. oh no!!! so sorry your fave pizza joint is no longer :( that is so sad. that artichoke pizza sounded DELICIOUS. your picture looks so yummy.

    thanks for leaving me good wishes on my blog :) sorry i haven't been around in a while, but i'm feeling much better these days, and will be making my regular rounds for sure!

    btw, i like your new blog layout!

  7. Oh! Sorry...about your favorite pizza place...the pizza sure looks yummie!

  8. So sorry for your loss! I know if anything ever happened to Sal's (my own neighborhood institution) an entire generation would mourn.

    I'm glad you were able to replicate a favorite for your own enjoyment!

  9. Sorry to hear that one of your favorite places burned down!

  10. Oh no its awful to lose your favorite pizza place!

  11. Oh no! That is terrible, it is so hard to find good pizza - what a tragedy!

  12. I'm so sorry that your favorite place has closed :( That artichoke pizza looks so good!

  13. That was my FAVORITE Pizza Man pizza! And for the last few days I've been thinking I need to make one to mourn the loss. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Clearly you guys have found an amazing pizza spot. We need that!


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