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How do you find out about all the hidden neighborhoods and history of a city? Three of us writers had a short time in the city of Milwaukee and wanted to savor as much as we could of the ethnic neighborhoods, architecture, and history. We contacted Theresa Nemetz of Milwaukee Food and City Tours, who offered us a flavor of what one of their many tours showcased of the city.
Since our time was so limited, she suggested a brief tour of Brady Street, one of the oldest neighborhoods, originally comprised of Polish immigrants (complete with a Polish squash club) and then settled by Sicilians. Peter Sciortinos Bakery was our first stop, a bakery that has been the heart of the Italian neighborhood for 60 years. This place exudes Old-World-bakery charm and the cookies don’t belie that charm. I would suggest a sample of three or four.
Next, we took a quick trip through Gloriosos Italian Market, home to handmade sausages, aisles of cheese, wine and pasta since 1946. This market also features a vast array of olives, olive oils, imported meats and delectable sandwiches, along with pastries and cookies from their bakery and even gelato. The Glorioso family has continuously owned this amazing market at the same location. Some days you will find two of the brothers (in their 80’s) still working. When they needed more space, they refused to move from their landmark location and bought the building next door instead.
Our last stop, Zaffiro's Pizza, was for a giant “loaded” salad and several pizzas where Liborio (“Bobby”) Zaffiro and his brother started making pizza in 1945 in the true Milwaukee style with a cracker-thin crust. You will still find the red and white checked tablecloths and red leather banquets reminiscent of classic Italian restaurants. What a perfect lunch!
Theresa Nemetz, who owns the tour company with her husband, told us they have six buses and 15 tour guides to take visitors to hidden gems where guests will see small, unknown places. They also have smaller vans for more intimate tours.
One of the upcoming tours will take guests to a new culinary school and will offer hands-on demonstrations filling cannoli. Another will provide facial rubs with the hops at Lakefront Brewery if tasting some of their brews is not your thing.
Not only does Milwaukee Food & City Tours visit areas in Milwaukee, but they offer tours to Poland, Chicago, and Amish country and will be adding a culinary tour next year to Italy where they will deconstruct pizza by visiting an olive oil ranch, a mozzarella cheese factory, and then head to an International pizza festival.
Milwaukee Food & City Tours offers many more fun tours with knowledgeable and personable guides. We were charmed by Theresa and would have loved to enjoy more tours with her. To find out about a tour that fits your interests, visit http://www.milwaukeefoodtours.com. I promise you that you will learn about all the hidden treasures of the area.