LTH Home

Maria's Pizza - Milwaukee WI

Maria's Pizza - Milwaukee WI
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Maria's Pizza - Milwaukee WI

    Post #1 - September 27th, 2006, 3:54 pm
    Post #1 - September 27th, 2006, 3:54 pm Post #1 - September 27th, 2006, 3:54 pm
    A friend who grew up in Milwaukee suggested I visit Maria's. All he'd say was, "Just go. I won't tell you any more."

    So I went. Maria's is quite an experience, difficult to fully describe. I enjoyed the pizza quite a bit but even if I hadn't I would have considered it a worthwhile visit.

    Image

    This is the second Maria's, opened in 1971, and things seem frozen in amber in that characteristic Milwaukee way. Maria passed away about 10 years ago but her daughters run the dining room just as Maria wanted. Her presence is palpable.

    Image

    The moment you enter you're struck with how close everything is. The dining room is small, the ceiling low, and every wall and ceiling surface is crammed with religious art and Green Bay Packers decorations. Maria and her husband were fans of paint-by-number religious art and their work is everywhere. I'm told they really decorate the place for Christmas.

    Image

    Pizzas come in two sizes, small round and large oval, both irregularly shaped and served hanging over the tray edges. This is your basic Midwestern thin crust, well prepared. I'd compare it to Vito & Nick's or Zaffiro's (another good one in Milwaukee). The crust isn't a lifeless wafer but has some nice blisters and charred edges. Sauce is a bit sweet but nicely seasoned and cheese is judiciously applied. Toppings are basic. Sausage is good but avoid the canned mushrooms. No alcohol is served, as Maria wanted it.

    I know better than to make extravagant claims about any pizza. Some will like Maria's version a lot (as I do) while others will not. Even ignoring the pizza, if you have any interest in old-fashioned neighborhood pizzerias with a ton of character you need to stop by Maria's.

    Maria's Pizza
    5025 W Forest Home Av
    (accessible by #14 bus from downtown)
    Milwaukee WI
    414-543-4606
    Tue-Sun 4-10, Sat 4-11
    cash only
  • Post #2 - July 24th, 2009, 8:29 pm
    Post #2 - July 24th, 2009, 8:29 pm Post #2 - July 24th, 2009, 8:29 pm
    Ram4 wrote:If you can do at least one meal there, Frank's Pizza Palace is highly recommended. I was in Appleton last October and just took a chance when I drove by (never heard of it). It was right out of a Chicago neighborhood. It's very similar to one of my all-time favorites - Marie's. I've come to realize that most pizzerias still around from the 1950's have all been good no matter where I am having one at!

    Frank's - since 1955.
    Marie's - since the late 1940's.
    Zaffiro's (Milwaukee) - since 1954.
    Q's Pizza - since 1959.
    Wells Brothers (Racine) - since 1921 (pizza a little later)
    If you are a fan of super thin crust, tavern style pizza, with great sausage, this is right up your alley. :wink:


    Don't forget about Maria's (Milwaukee) Since 1957.

    Image

    Maria's has been on my must try list for years since reading about it on here. I finally made it over there last night and you can put another one on the board for ReneG. The pizza and atmosphere were both right up there with the best I have had and experienced in my lifetime quest for the perfect extra thin and crispy pizza pie in a time honered tavern thats served generations of families. Zaffiro's was always my favorite pizza and then I found Well's Brothers...well now I got Maria's. The truth is all three are amazing and along with Q's and Vito & Nicks they make up my starting five of best pizza parlors in the Midwest. I have not been to Frank's in Appleton but its at he top of my list.

    Image
    Story behind Maria's. Gotta love the spots with a history.

    I'd hate to say it and some might call it blasphemy but the state of WI might have us beat in pizza. I'm sure there was a time when these little tavern style joints that use houses were abundant in Chicago but theres not many good ones left anymore. Since Milwaukee and other parts of WI haven't been totally taken over by corporate America and the Kitschy bars they still have quite a few amazing pizza parlors. Maria's, Zaffiro's and Well's Brothers are proof of this.

    I have said before that I am a fan of basically tavern style only. I'll eat other styles of pizza and enjoy them but none have me wanting them and needing them like a top notch tavern style pie does. Important factors in achieving a sublime pie include the feeling of an old school tavern. you know like the old family picture, old tables and chairs, old school bar and of course those red table cloths and just some character that makes it unique-it helps to have been around since the '50's. Maria's succeeded at this better than any tavern I've been to. The only difference in ReneGs original description was it was flooded with Brewers memorabilia for summertime baseball and 4th of July decorations. Its not too far from the Brewers stadium (5 minute drive) if you ever head to a game-Maria's is the ideal place to eat before or after with a group.

    Image
    The dining room at Maria's

    Next parts that are the most important is the actual pie. Real Italian sausage chunks laced with flavor. Check to that, when you first walk in you can see the bucket of fresh sausage they use and its some of the best I've had flavor wise and they sure don't skimp on it. Its important that the pie is actually thin-check. I cant say for sure b/c I haven't measured every one but Maria's was as thin as i can remember. Was it crispy? oh yes, no joke an edge piece I ate this morning was still crunchy, loved it. Not only that though-the middle pieces were as good as the edge ones and I've never experienced that before. On top of all this they have a signature prep for their tavern pie. If you order a large in comes out as a square and the crust always overlaps the trey its served on. The crust was also perfect in my book. Im getting real hungry again thinking about it so Ill stop talking and show y'all the pictures...here you go.

    Image
    large is a must...youll really want leftovers

    Image
    a signature of Maria's is the pie is always too big for the trey

    Image
    middle piece

    Image
    crust piece

    Image
    I'll put this up there with the best pizza in America

    Thanks again to ReneG and LTH for another five star find in the roadfood world. If you like Zaffiro's, Well's Brother's, Q's, Pat's, Vito & Nicks, Marie's and the rest of them then give this place a try. Its still in the family as we were served by Maria's daughter Bonnie and she was as nice and helpful as could be. Talk about a deal a large pie is about 16 dollars. Its already an old favorite of mine.

    Maria's Pizzaria
    5025 W Forest Home Ave
    Milwaukee, WI 53219-4505
    (414) 543-4606
  • Post #3 - July 29th, 2009, 9:26 am
    Post #3 - July 29th, 2009, 9:26 am Post #3 - July 29th, 2009, 9:26 am
    Da Beef, you are the man! I am there. Maria's here I come! The cheese looks a lot more orange than normal. Is that cheddar in it? I kind of hope not, but if it's good...

    Thanks again. I look forward to it.
  • Post #4 - August 19th, 2009, 9:50 am
    Post #4 - August 19th, 2009, 9:50 am Post #4 - August 19th, 2009, 9:50 am
    Da Beef wrote:Thanks again to ReneG and LTH for another five star find in the roadfood world. If you like Zaffiro's, Well's Brother's, Q's, Pat's, Vito & Nicks, Marie's and the rest of them then give this place a try.

    Thank you for that report. I was beginning to wonder if anyone here would ever visit Maria's. I like Zaffiro's a lot but get tired of people acting like it's the only pizzeria in Milwaukee. I actually prefer Maria's but am happy to have both to choose from.

    The group of pizzerias you mention is a good one and I agree if you like one you'll probably like them all. I need to visit Wells Brothers, even more since your recent report. Just looking at the pictures makes me certain I'll like it.

    Ram4's quote (above) mentions Frank's in Appleton. I'm completely unfamiliar with that one but hope to check it out soon. Coincidentally, I'm putting together a post on a different Frank's, a fifty-some-year-old place that serves what I consider the best Midwestern tavern-style pizza I've had.
  • Post #5 - August 19th, 2009, 11:21 am
    Post #5 - August 19th, 2009, 11:21 am Post #5 - August 19th, 2009, 11:21 am
    Ram4's quote (above) mentions Frank's in Appleton. I'm completely unfamiliar with that one but hope to check it out soon. Coincidentally, I'm putting together a post on a different Frank's, a fifty-some-year-old place that serves what I consider the best Midwestern tavern-style pizza I've had.[/quote]

    Wait a sec...is this Franks located near the Brickyard maybe on Belmont or somewhere near? I now remember a real old school pizza sign around that area that you just kind of new the place was good by the looks of the 50's neon sign. I said I was headed there the next day and just kind of forgot. Regardless cant wait to read it.
  • Post #6 - August 19th, 2009, 12:13 pm
    Post #6 - August 19th, 2009, 12:13 pm Post #6 - August 19th, 2009, 12:13 pm
    Da Beef wrote:
    Rene G wrote:Ram4's quote (above) mentions Frank's in Appleton. I'm completely unfamiliar with that one but hope to check it out soon. Coincidentally, I'm putting together a post on a different Frank's, a fifty-some-year-old place that serves what I consider the best Midwestern tavern-style pizza I've had.


    Wait a sec...is this Franks located near the Brickyard maybe on Belmont or somewhere near? I now remember a real old school pizza sign around that area that you just kind of new the place was good by the looks of the 50's neon sign. I said I was headed there the next day and just kind of forgot. Regardless cant wait to read it.
    I'm trying to figure out which Frank's Rene is talking about - looking forward to it!
    Last edited by Ram4 on August 19th, 2009, 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #7 - August 19th, 2009, 1:53 pm
    Post #7 - August 19th, 2009, 1:53 pm Post #7 - August 19th, 2009, 1:53 pm
    Ram4 wrote:
    Da Beef wrote:
    Rene G wrote:Ram4's quote (above) mentions Frank's in Appleton. I'm completely unfamiliar with that one but hope to check it out soon. Coincidentally, I'm putting together a post on a different Frank's, a fifty-some-year-old place that serves what I consider the best Midwestern tavern-style pizza I've had.
    Wait a sec...is this Franks located near the Brickyard maybe on Belmont or somewhere near? I now remember a real old school pizza sign around that area that you just kind of new the place was good by the looks of the 50's neon sign. I said I was headed there the next day and just kind of forgot. Regardless cant wait to read it.
    I'm trying to figure out which Frank's she's going to review too - looking forward to it!

    Good guess but, no, it's not the Frank's at 6506 W Belmont, though I agree their sign makes it look promising. I, too, have been meaning to visit for years but somehow always forget.

    The place I (a "he", by the way) will post more about is Frank's Pizza in Silvis IL. It's already been discussed in the Quad Cities style pizza thread.
  • Post #8 - August 20th, 2009, 6:43 pm
    Post #8 - August 20th, 2009, 6:43 pm Post #8 - August 20th, 2009, 6:43 pm
    Looks like Ill be adding another spot to my must try list which has lots from downstate. If its your favorite than I already know its good. Right now I would say its a toss up between Maria's and Well's brothers for my fave with Q's and Zaffiro's coming real close. its always nice to have another to try...look forward to it and am also shocked you haven't been to Franks on Belmont...anyone here have? Im going to try and get there this week.
  • Post #9 - September 12th, 2009, 11:04 am
    Post #9 - September 12th, 2009, 11:04 am Post #9 - September 12th, 2009, 11:04 am
    I finally got to try Maria's yesterday afternoon for a late lunch/early dinner. ReneG and DaBeef - another winner. It was amazing. I loved how big the large was (for only $1.50 more, a no-brainer), and if I wasn't planning on going to Kopp's for a little custard right afterwards (the best!), I would have eaten the whole thing. Paper thin, light, airy, and crisp crust, char blisters all over but not overdone, simply wonderful. Very oily cheese (this WILL turn off some people, especially the "grease blotters" :lol:) but this of course is a highlight to the rest of us. I have to admit that I was not as in love with the sausage (I got half sausage, half cheese) after a while. It had a strong aftertaste of a certain seasoning (not fennel) that started to bug me. They sure put a hefty amount of sausage on there too. A definite candidate for my Top 5 tavern style places. Although DaBeef - you don't have one of my locks in your Top 5, Marie's Pizza, a GNR on Lawrence Ave. What's up with that?! :wink: I would definitely go to Maria's or Wells Brothers over Zaffiro's now. Thank you again guys, I absolutely love finding places like this. I can't wait to eat my leftovers in a few hours! :)
  • Post #10 - November 9th, 2011, 8:30 pm
    Post #10 - November 9th, 2011, 8:30 pm Post #10 - November 9th, 2011, 8:30 pm
    Ram4 wrote: I would definitely go to Maria's or Wells Brothers over Zaffiro's now.


    Lovely bride and I just got back from a honeymoon in Milwaukee, and we have to agree with this assessment. I tend to go to Zaffiro's whenever I'm in Milwaukee because they got booze, but Maria's is a more satisfying pizza for my tastes. Yeah, it's a weird-ass looking pizza, but the crust has better flavor at Maria's, as well as the sausage. Today was the first time I tried Wells Brothers and I'd put them a hair behind Maria's, and a step ahead of Zaffiro's. They are all worthy pizzas, though. I just find Zaffiro's dough too crackery thin, which I didn't think was possible as a concept, but I really don't get any flavor from it--just texture. This is not to say that Maria's and Wells Brothers are much thicker--they're very similar in thickness--but Zaffiro's has more of a wheat tortilla-ness to it than the others do, for lack of better description.

    This won't stop me from going to Zaffiro's, though. Being able to have a beer with my pizza is a big draw. But Maria's is good enough to be my second favorite Midwest thin-crust style pie, behind Vito and Nicks. It deserves more attention, in my opinion.
  • Post #11 - November 10th, 2011, 10:22 am
    Post #11 - November 10th, 2011, 10:22 am Post #11 - November 10th, 2011, 10:22 am
    Binko wrote: Lovely bride and I just got back from a honeymoon in Milwaukee, and we have to agree with this assessment.

    Best wishes to you and your wife!
    -Mary
  • Post #12 - November 10th, 2011, 11:10 am
    Post #12 - November 10th, 2011, 11:10 am Post #12 - November 10th, 2011, 11:10 am
    Thanks! I know Milwaukee doesn't strike one as the usual honeymoon destination, but we always have a wonderful time in Wisconsin, and our few days' honeymoon in Milwaukee did nothing but continue our love for all things Wisconsin. Good people, good food, good drink. What else can you ask for?
  • Post #13 - November 12th, 2011, 5:02 pm
    Post #13 - November 12th, 2011, 5:02 pm Post #13 - November 12th, 2011, 5:02 pm
    I'z gonna say ...
    honeymoon in Milwaukee

    :shock:

    Glad it worked for the two of you! Congratulations!
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #14 - November 14th, 2011, 1:06 am
    Post #14 - November 14th, 2011, 1:06 am Post #14 - November 14th, 2011, 1:06 am
    We've both traveled pretty far and wide, but you know it's true love when you can both look at each other and say with a straight face, "Hey, let's go to Milwaukee for our honeymoon," and be tickled when the other responds with complete, unironic enthusiasm. :)
  • Post #15 - November 14th, 2011, 12:09 pm
    Post #15 - November 14th, 2011, 12:09 pm Post #15 - November 14th, 2011, 12:09 pm
    Binko wrote:We've both traveled pretty far and wide, but you know it's true love when you can both look at each other and say with a straight face, "Hey, let's go to Milwaukee for our honeymoon," and be tickled when the other responds with complete, unironic enthusiasm. :)

    Hey, if you were happy with your honeymoon choice, more power to you! Many people never get the chance to even go on a honeymoon so that's fine. Plus you had Maria's which is about as good you're gonna do with food on any honeymoon! :wink:

    I've been back to Maria's a couple more times and it's my favorite in Wisconsin, but I am scared to try the sausage again. It was a little weird to me when I had it the first time. When I take my uncle there, he's going to get sausage, so I'll try it then. The first two things I think of when I go to Milwaukee are I need to go to Maria's Pizza and then Kopp's for dessert.
  • Post #16 - November 14th, 2011, 12:18 pm
    Post #16 - November 14th, 2011, 12:18 pm Post #16 - November 14th, 2011, 12:18 pm
    My only issue is the lack of beer at Marias. Pizza and beer are meant to go together and if I am going out for pizza there had better be some ice cold beer there too!
    Visit my new website at http://www.splatteredpages.com or my old one at www.eatwisconsin.com
  • Post #17 - November 14th, 2011, 1:03 pm
    Post #17 - November 14th, 2011, 1:03 pm Post #17 - November 14th, 2011, 1:03 pm
    eatwisconsin wrote:My only issue is the lack of beer at Marias. Pizza and beer are meant to go together and if I am going out for pizza there had better be some ice cold beer there too!


    That is exactly the only reason I've been to Zaffiro's more than Maria's. The beer/cocktail bar just edges it over for me when I'm doing a quick run through Milwaukee.
  • Post #18 - November 14th, 2011, 1:46 pm
    Post #18 - November 14th, 2011, 1:46 pm Post #18 - November 14th, 2011, 1:46 pm
    Binko...I wondered where you have been! So you got married... congratulations!

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more