We all know that pizza is a popular dish throughout the United States, especially in big cities like Chicago and New York. But we promise you that Milwaukee loves pizza too!
Given that a large number of Italian-Americans live in the Milwaukee area and that the city has a strong dedication to all things that go well with pizza, like beer and sports, it seems that there is an excellent pizza joint on nearly every corner in good ole Milwaukee. In fact, did you know that there is even a Milwaukee-style pizza? It’s basically a square-cut pizza with cracker-thin crust, often cut into pub squares. It’s our favorite kind!
Looking for the perfect place to grab a slice? This list has some of the area’s most popular pizza places that serve up everything from Milwaukee-style, to specialty slices with exotic ingredients to authentic Neapolitan pizzerias.
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1. Zaffiro’s Pizza & Bar
Since 1954 Zaffiro’s Pizza & Bar has been serving some of the best pizza in Milwaukee out of a pretty small restaurant just off Brady Street on the city’s east side. Since then, Zaffiro’s has established a partnership with area movie theaters, so now their pizza can be enjoyed in the surrounding suburbs as well.
However, some locals still think the best pizza is to be found in the original location, plus the east side location is cozy and has a particular charm that can’t be found at the other locations, though parking is certainly more difficult. For a slice of great pizza and Milwaukee history, stop over to Zaffiro’s Pizza & Bar.
Zaffiro’s has a limited menu of classics, meaning they do only a few things, but they do them very well. For an appetizer, try the garlic bread or fried eggplant. A must-have is the Zaffiro’s Salad, which is good for a small group and comes with lettuce, green pepper, onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, mozzarella, and tomatoes. The menu also has pasta entrees and some sandwich options, like the Sicilian steak sandwich.
Most people head to Zaffiro’s for the pizza, which has some of the thinnest crust in the city, so if you like Milwaukee-style pizza, it is a must-try. If you build your own, the toppings are limited to the usual suspects, or just go with one of the specialty pizzas, like the Everything, which comes with cheese, sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, green pepper, black olives, and with or without anchovies. Be sure to have some spumoni to clear your palate after the meal.
- Address: 1724 N. Farwell Ave.
2. Lisa’s Pizzeria
Lisa’s Pizzeria is a family-owned pizza joint that has been serving up some of the best pizza on the east side since 1960. That kind of longevity in a competitive world like pizza making can only mean one thing – the pizza is truly that good.
The crust is slightly thicker than a thin crust but thinner than most pan pizzas, and there is something about the sauce and cheese that makes Lisa’s pizzas especially flavorful. There are also non-pizza options, including Italian classics and a limited American food menu.
There are plenty of tasty options at Lisa’s Pizzeria, even if the pizza is the major reason for choosing this classic east side establishment. For an appetizer, try the tossed green salad that comes with a tasty vinaigrette, or go for the breaded and fried cauliflower with dipping sauce. There are numerous kinds of pasta and American entrees to choose from, in addition to sandwiches, like the meatball sandwich slathered in tasty marinara.
If you decide to go for the pizza, try the Special, which comes with sausage and mushrooms. Otherwise, you can build your own pizza with a choice of tasty toppings however you like!
Be sure to check their website before ordering since they often have coupons for a couple of dollars off the tab.
- Address: 2961 N. Oakland Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53211
3. Balistreri’s Italian-American Ristorante
Balistreri’s Italian-American Ristorante is one of two restaurants owned by the same family. The founder of the two restaurants has all sorts of history in the Milwaukee restaurant scene, having worked in several of the city’s most famous Italian-American restaurants throughout time. So, he definitely knows how to serve up a good-tasting pizza in Milwaukee.
Balistreri’s Italian-American Ristorante is a pizza institution in Wauwatosa and draws loyal followers from throughout the city through its front doors. The restaurant is pretty small, but you can usually still get a table when walking in, or you can always grab your pizza to go.
Balistreri’s offers the usual Italian restaurant favorites. For an appetizer, try the meatballs in sauce served with bread or the fried conch with sauce. The Italian-style salad is especially good and can be shared with a couple of people.
Besides pizza, the restaurant also offers sandwiches, like the Italian beef sandwich, and has a shortlist of entrees. However, the main highlight is the pizza, which comes with an extra thin crust and a hearty topping of cheese. From there, you can build your own or go with one of the specialty pizzas off the menu.
The Balistreri Special is worth trying. It comes with sausage, mozzarella, mushrooms, olives, and onions. For something slightly more adventurous, try the Hawaiian with Canadian bacon, mozzarella, and pineapple. Whatever pizza combination you go with, you can’t go wrong with the pizza at Balistreri’s Italian-American Ristorante.
And if you are not in the particular mood for pizza, you can always stop in on Mondays for a spaghetti special with meatballs, which also includes a salad or soup, or try out the Friday fish fry. Either one is sure to please!
- Address: 812 N. 68th St., Wauwatosa, WI 53213
4. Calderone Club
The Calderone Club is one of the more popular Italian restaurants in the city, partially because of how great the food is and also because the location is right in the center of downtown, making it an easy stop for downtown workers and tourists alike. With a spacious dining area, you can almost certainly get a table, though reservations on the weekends are still recommended. We promise your Italian cravings will be served at the Calderone Club.
Before diving into the main course, start off with a caesar salad, the fried calamari with marinara, or for larger groups, the antipasto platter, which comes with prosciutto, soppressata, calabrese, mortadella, genoa salami, provolone, olives, pepperoncini, and artichoke hearts.
The pizza here is truly outstanding. The crust is paper-thin, and the toppings are hearty but not enough to make the crust soggy. You can build your own, with plenty of exceptional ingredients to choose from, or go with one of the specialty pizzas. The menu also offers plenty of fantastic pasta and entree options too.
The restaurant’s namesake pizza, The Calderone Works, is probably one of the most popular. It combines mozzarella, Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, bell peppers, and onions for a truly amazing bite of pizza. Whenever at Calderone Club, it is worth getting a large pizza since you will certainly be disappointed if you do not have leftovers the next day.
Remember that the portions are very generous, so sharing can make this restaurant a budget-friendly night, whether you get an entrée or a pizza.
And due to its awesome location in the heart of the city, the Calderone Club is close to other downtown destinations, like the bars on Old World 3rd Street and Water Street, in addition to various theater venues and the Fiserv Forum, making Calderone Club an excellent choice for dinner before hitting the town!
- Address: 842 N. Old World 3rd St. Milwaukee, WI 53203
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5. Pizza Man
Pizza Man was an iconic establishment on North Avenue until several years ago. It was destroyed in a fire. Since then, Pizza Man has rebuilt on Downer Avenue and, due to its popularity, built another location in Wauwatosa. Each location offers abundant seating, high-quality service, and of course, excellent food.
Pizza Man offers a range of high-quality Italian dishes and pizza known throughout the city. Start with some eggplant fries before trying one of the many excellent salads or sandwiches. The pasta at Pizza Man is also worth a try, like the wild boar ravioli. The real highlight is getting a large pizza to share with family or friends. You can build your own or order one of the specialty pizzas. The Chef’s Pizza is a great choice. It comes with radicchio, sausage, mushroom, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. The Artichoke a la Mode is also delicious. It comes topped with artichokes, basil, tomato, and cream cheese.
- Address: 2597 N. Downer Ave.
- Address: 11500 W. Burleigh St., Wauwatosa
6. Maria’s Pizzeria – Recently Closed
Maria’s Pizzeria is a destination-worthy restaurant located in Greenfield, which is on the west side of the city. The eclectic restaurant dates back to 1971! Housed inside of what looks like a corner house, upon entering, you may be taken aback by the eclectic décor mostly composed of religious drawings, paintings, and iconography.
Adding to the character of the place is also an enthusiastic waitstaff that will make you feel like a regular. Be advised before going – the restaurant has no liquor license, so no beer or liquor, only soda, and they do not accept cards, so be sure to bring cash. There is also limited seating, so best to call ahead on weekend nights or just order your pizza to go.
Maria’s Pizzeria specializes in extra thin-crust pizzas offered in two sizes (and two shapes). Choose from a 14-inch circular pizza or an 18-inch rectangular pizza that comes served on a baking sheet, with parts of the pizza hanging over the sides. The sauce, cheese, and toppings are exceptional, and the rectangular pizza, in particular, has subtle nuances that make it one of the best pies in town, especially the varying thickness of the crust. There are limited toppings available, basically just the basics, like sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, black olives, onions, and mushrooms.
Don’t let the simplicity of the menu deter making Maria’s your next destination for next-level pizza. For anyone not in the mood for pizza, the restaurant also serves appetizers, like fried mushrooms, along with salads, fried chicken, and a few pasta dishes. Maria’s is totally worth the visit!
- Address: 5025 W. Forest Home Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53219
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7. Pizza Shuttle
Located on Farwell Avenue in the center of the east side, Pizza Shuttle is one of the city’s favorite restaurants for late-night dining. With extra late delivery hours, affordable food, and creative pizza concoctions, Pizza Shuttle seems to do good business at all hours of the day.
Whether dining in or having Pizza Shuttle delivered, there is an extensive menu of food and dessert options to ensure everyone can find something that will please their palate. The delivery range is quite broad, so if you are staying in an area hotel, it is worth giving Pizza Shuttle a try, especially after hitting some of the area bars.
As already mentioned, the menu at Pizza Shuttle is enormous. Where else can you get ribs, pizza, gyros, ice cream, and just about anything you can imagine, all from one place at 2:00 am in the morning? The menu includes subs, wraps, fried chicken, burgers, wings, tops of fried appetizers, and of course, pizza. Even with such a large menu, the pizza is still truly excellent.
There are numerous crust types to choose from, including Detroit-style pizza, which is pretty unique in Milwaukee. The regular pizzas are great, but it is the specialty pizzas that really make Pizza Shuttle a unique destination. There are over twenty of them, some expected, like a traditional pizza with the works, to truly original concoctions that can’t be found elsewhere.
Try the buffalo chicken pizza, which comes with mozzarella, marinated and grilled chicken, hot sauce, and a choice of either blue cheese or ranch. The Southern BBQ Chicken Pizza is also great, it comes with mozzarella, BBQ sauce, onions, chicken, jalapenos, and shredded cheddar ($10-$21.80). There are so many excellent specialty pizzas it is difficult to choose just one.
Check online for an abundance of coupons and rotating specials at Pizza Shuttle.
- Address: 1827 N. Farwell Ave.
8. Ricardo’s Pizza
Ricardo’s Pizza, located in the historic Greendale village, is a local favorite for Italian-American fare and serves some of the best pizza in the area. The menu at Ricard’s may surprise some first-time customers – there are obviously plenty of great pizzas to choose from, but there are also plenty of entrees, a kid’s menu, and a large selection of fresh and creative salads. Bring the family to Ricardo’s, and you can guarantee everyone will leave satisfied.
There are plenty of great items to choose from on Ricardo’s menu. Start with an appetizer, like the excellent jumbo wings served buffalo or barbeque style with a choice of blue cheese or ranch dipping sauces, or try the exceptional roasted red pepper, spinach and artichoke dip served with crostini. For a smaller sharable salad, try the Caprese, with mozzarella, tomato, and basil, or try one of the entrée salads.
There are quite a few choices, all of which are great, but the blackened salmon with mixed greens, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, tossed with sour cream, and dill dressing is especially good. Other choices include a Friday fish fry, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.
The pizza at Ricardo’s is also top-notch, with a crust that falls somewhere between thin and pan style, and excellent pizza sauce. While you can do the build your own option, the specialty pizzas are a great deal. The Danvinci is phenomenal, regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or not – it comes with a red sauce and pesto mix, mozzarella, feta, and fresh tomatoes. The Genoa is also excellent. It comes topped with garlic cream sauce, mozzarella, genoa salami, roasted red peppers, and mushrooms.
- Address: 5627 Broad St., Greendale
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9. Transfer Pizzeria Café
Transfer Pizzeria Café is relatively new to the pizza scene in Milwaukee, but it quickly established itself as one of the top contenders for the best pizza in the city. Conveniently located in Walker’s Point, the restaurant has a modern vibe and frequent live music shows, making it a great destination for both drinks and excellent food. The restaurant also offers weekly specials, and the pizzas are affordable given their high-quality ingredients. Try not to miss out on Transfer when exploring the pizza scene in Milwaukee.
If you try Transfer once, you will certainly want to go back for more, so don’t worry about ordering every menu item at once. The menu offers salads, paninis, pasta dishes, and antipasti, like the Bruschetta Salmone, which comes with smoked salmon on a baguette with garlic sauce, cilantro, and lemon. The pizzas are truly amazing.
There are four categories of pizzas to pick from, each with several options. For example, you can get a veggie pie, a traditional, like the Prosciutto Fungi, which comes topped with tomato sauce, cheese, mushroom, and prosciutto, a garlic pizza, like the La Bella, topped with garlic cream cheese sauce, artichokes, and onion, or a specialty pizza. Definitely try the Thai Chicken specialty pizza, which is topped with peanut sauce, cheese, chicken, cilantro, and onion.
- Address: 101 W. Mitchell St.
10. Ian’s Pizza
Ian’s Pizza is a very popular local chain that originally got started in Madison before quickly establishing a few locations in Milwaukee. There are two locations – one on North Avenue and the other in between two popular drinking destinations, Old World 3rd Street and Water Street. The locations are not by coincidence!
Ian’s is great for anyone, but it is truly excellent for the late-night crowds and disproportionately popular with college students. Ian’s stays open late and delivers pizza even later. While all of the pizzas are popular, it is the extra-large pizzas and slices and the truly inventive flavors that make Ian’s a great destination for pizza lovers.
You can’t go wrong ordering at Ian’s – there are so many specialty pizza options to choose from! The extra-large twenty-inch pizzas are a great deal if you’re looking to have some leftovers. Or if you just have room for a slice, you can get one of those too.
If you are in the mood for a traditional pizza, then you will be delighted with flavorful cheese, a fresh pizza sauce, and an abundant choice of toppings. However, it is definitely worth giving one of the many specialty pizzas a try. One of the most popular is the mac n’ cheese pizza, which, as the name implies, basically replaces traditional pizza toppings with a flavorful and deliciously creamy mac n’ cheese. Another great option is the Macho Nacho, which has chipotle, pepper jack, chorizo, salsa, and tortilla chips.
Check online for the forecast of monthly specialty flavors if you’re curious.
- Addresses: 146 E. Juneau Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53202 OR 2035 E. North Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53202