Who makes the best pizza in Wisconsin? We sought your opinion in 50 convincing words or less. Ann Schnuck of Pleasant Prairie wins for this entry:
“Wells Brothers restaurant in Racine makes THE BEST pizza in Wisconsin. Slightly sweet sauce, perfectly spiced sausage and mozzarella cheese are distributed on the ‘oh so thin’ crust, just right every time. It tastes so YUMMY, you’ll want to keep going back for more.”
Theresa and Wade Nemetz of Milwaukee Food Tours selected Ann’s note from a handful of finalists. She receives a gift card for two people to attend a three-hour Milwaukee pizza tour, valued at $110.
Wells Brothers began business in 1921, is in its third generation of family ownership. Reservations are recommended at this neighborhood restaurant, in a modest brick wellsbrosracine.com, 262-632-4408
Harry’s Prohibition Bistro, Sheboygan, has a loyal following that swooped in to cast quick votes, but this exercise was not meant to be a popularity contest.
“Everything that goes on to the pizza is fresh right down to the homemade mozzarella cheese and the unique twists that they do with the pizzas,” writes Maryl Lanham, Sheboygan, to explain the restaurant’s exceptional nature. “They take ingredients you would not think would go with pizza. They combine corn with crème fraiche and also lemon. Hands down the best pizza I have ever had.” harrysprohibitionbistro.com, 920-451-9100
It’s certainly not the only Sheboygan pizza parlor that earns high marks. “The best pizza, hands down anywhere, is Il Ritrovo,” says Mary Bishop of Green Bay. “The pizza crust is thin and perfectly topped with fresh ingredients. The pizza is right out of Italy. My mouth is watering, just thinking of the caprese salad. An extra tiramisu often goes home with us – one is not enough.” ilritrovopizza.com, 920-803-7516
Both Harry’s and Il Ritrovo make authentic Neapolitan pizza in wood-fired ovens.
Steve Mellberg of De Pere recommends Faye’s Pizza, in business since 1957 in Sheboygan. “Faye’s pizza sauce dances flawlessly between herby freshness and robust tomato sweetness,” he writes. “The deliciously crisp hand-tossed rocks, yet the buttery delectable deep-dish reigns. Faye’s eclectic toppings rule; the show stopper: Italian sausage. Think garden-fresh oregano plus basil, fennel overtones, rooted in garlic, locally sourced from Miesfeld’s Meat Market.” fayespizza.com, 920-458-4171
Dean Peterson of Mosinee put in a good word for Cranky Pat’s Pizzeria in Green Bay: “Very thin crispy crust, handmade, fresh ingredients, traditional Italian, intoxicating aroma, in business forever, a mushroom lover’s delight, great sauce made in front of you and baked in a rotating oven. Free ice cream cups at the end. You’ll be back often.” The business, which began in 1955, also has outlets in Oshkosh and Neenah. crankypats.com, 920-468-7777
Just up the road is Rustique Pizzeria in Suamico, a favorite of Sallie Barta, Oconto. “The pizzas here are the best ever,” she asserts. “The unique toppings, unusual names and fabulous crust make these pizzas incredible.The old church building and the friendly owners and waitstaff also add to the experience. Try it – I know you’ll love it too.” Look for the restaurant in a century-old chapel. rustiquegb.com, 920-544-9379
“My family travels 90 miles roundtrip to eat at Capri di Nuovo, West Allis,” writes Paula Richmond, Zion, Ill. “The Chicago-style pizza is gooey with cheese and taste. Our salivary glands burst into joy with the first bite. It is baked to perfection and is always enjoyable.” capridinuovo.com, 414-543-5510
“Luigi’s Pizza in Kenosha is crafted with a crispy thin crust, slathered with a thick semi-sweet tomato sauce, a generous layer of Wisconsin mozzarella cheese and topped with pepperoni and sausage,” writes Steven Murdock, Kenosha. “It’s then baked in an oven until the cheese bubbles. Served piping hot, this pizza is the best.” On Facebook, 262-694-6565
“I suggest you try Ang and Eddies Pizza in Fond du lac,” says George Caldwell of Fond du lac. “They make everything from scratch.” angandeddies.com, 920-929-8909
“We travel through Sun Prairie at least once a month and Salvatore’s Tomato Pies is definitely worth a stop,” says Sue Kramlich, Green Lake. “It’s a destination.” salvatorestomatopies.com, 608-318-1761
“Best pizza is Bill’s Pizza Shop in Stevens Point,” says Renee Mew, Stevens Point. “They have been there for years and are always busy – they can’t keep up answering the phone. Excellent, tasty and I could eat it every day.” No website, 715-344-9557
Frankie’s Pizza in Ashland earns a vote from Paul Hoffman, Schofield, for the “original Italian thin crust, grease-bomb deliciousness.” ashlandsfamousfrankiespizza.com, 715-682-9980
For Staci Zastrow, Wausau, hometown Angelo’s Family Pizzeria is a winner. “Best crust, thin and crispy,” she explains. “Have to try just sausage” as a topping. “It’s great.” angelospizzawausau.com, 715-845-6225
And for Geoff Watters, Wausau, a favorite is Liberty Bell Chalet, Hurley. “The best sauce and thin crust,” he writes. “Fantastic Caesar salad also. Plus, my parents met there.” facebook.com/libertybellchalet, 715-561-3753
Last: Eagle-eyed Theresa VanLieshout of Wausau was quick to notice an online error in my last pizza column, which editors quickly fixed. Her city does not have an Uno Pizzeria but “I wish we did – LOVE UNOs.” unos.com
Milwaukee Food Tours began in 2008 with a walking tour along and near Brady Street, a neighborhood where Zaffiro’s Pizza began business in 1956. Thin-crust pizza is the specialty for the popular, second-generation family restaurant with Sicilian roots. zaffirospizza.com, 414-289-8776
The tour company has grown to offer at least one dozen types of food field trips. The three-hour Milwaukee’s Pizza Bus Tour, typically on Saturday evenings, includes samples and an introduction to the city’s Italian history. It ends with scoops of gelato. milwaukeefoodtours.com, 800-979-3370
“We’ll go from old school, five-star pizzerias to newer, upscale establishments and enjoy a variety of unique tastes that they each offer,” promises Theresa Nemetz, whose great-grandparents immigrated to Milwaukee from Sicily a century ago.
Heading east? Pizza Brain is a Philadelphia museum with the world’s largest array of pizza memorabilia, as certified by Guinness World Records. That means toys to vinyl album covers.
The neighborhood museum is part of a vegan-friendly pizzeria (but pizzas for meat eaters are made, too). It exists because of the success of a Kickstarter campaign that raised $16,000 from pizza lovers, and an art show devoted to pizza was a springboard for that project.
“It’s mainly a pizzeria that houses a pizza collection, but as we grow as a business, our vision will continue to grow,” co-founder Brian Dwyer told PMQ Pizza Magazine.
Regarding pizza extremes, he added this: “To say there’s a best pizza, I think, is a weird idea. It’s like saying there’s only one mountain to climb. I think that’s the beautiful thing about pizza. It can take so many shapes. It can be $2 on a paper plate at a curb or $50 with a bottle of wine.” pizzabrain.org, 215-291-2965