Pizza Quest in Milwaukee

Milwaukee might be known for its beer, but let me tell you, the pizza here is something else. Let’s explore Milwaukee’s pizza scene and find out why it’s a must-visit for any pizza lover.

The Thin-Crust Delight

Thin-crust pizza is Milwaukee’s pride. Imagine a crust so thin and crispy it can hold a mountain of toppings without turning into a cheesy mess (Milwaukee Magazine). It’s not the kind you fold; it’s the kind you savor, one square at a time.

Pizza TypeCrust ThicknessToppings Capacity
Milwaukee Thin-CrustUltra-thin, cracker-likeHigh
New York StyleThin, foldableModerate
Chicago Deep DishThick, pie-likeExtreme

Milwaukee’s Pizza Legends

To get Milwaukee’s pizza scene, you gotta know its roots. The Caradaro Club, Milwaukee’s first pizza joint, opened in 1945. They started with Italian-American classics before introducing their iconic pizza (OnMilwaukee).

Joe Todaro and John Caravella, the brains behind Caradaro Club, created a pizza recipe that became legendary. Their pizza had a flaky, crispy crust made with cake flour, yeast, baker’s malt, lard, and olive oil. The sauce was simple—just crushed tomatoes and minimal seasoning. Toppings included classics like pepperoni, sausage, olives, mushrooms, and onions.

Caradaro Club’s pizza was oblong and cut into squares. It became so popular that people would line up just to get a slice. Today, the Caradaro legacy lives on, with places like Calderone Club and Balistreri’s using the original recipe to serve their own versions of Milwaukee-style pizza (OnMilwaukee).

For more on top pizza spots across the country, check out best pizza in Chicago and best pizza in Brooklyn.

Milwaukee’s pizza legends aren’t just about taste; they’re about history, community, and a love for a good slice. So next time you’re in Milwaukee, start your own pizza quest and taste a piece of history.

Top Pizza Spots

Milwaukee isn’t just about cheese curds and beer; it’s a pizza haven. Here are my top spots for the best pizza in Milwaukee.

Calderone Club: A Rectangle Delight

For a unique pizza experience, Calderone Club is a must. Known for its tavern-cut rectangle pizza, this place serves up a thin, crispy crust, tangy sauce, and fresh toppings (Milwaukee Magazine). The rectangular shape might surprise you, but every inch is worth it.

FeatureDetails
CrustThin and crisp
SauceTangy and rich
ToppingsFresh and abundant

Ned’s: Where Sweet and Zesty Meet

Ned’s is a Milwaukee classic, winning hearts with its sweet-zesty sauce and unique toppings. One standout is the PLT—pepperoni, lettuce, and tomato. It’s a flavor explosion that’ll leave you wanting more.

FeatureDetails
CrustClassic hand-tossed
SauceSweet and zesty
ToppingsUnique combos like PLT

Maria’s: A Greasy Goodness

Maria’s is the spot for those who love a bit of grease in their pizza. Famous for its hand-tossed crusts, hunky sausages, and pepperonis, all enveloped in pockets of delectable grease (Milwaukee Magazine). It’s the kind of pizza that makes you forget about calories and just dive in.

FeatureDetails
CrustHand-tossed and amorphous
SauceRobust and savory
ToppingsGenerous and greasy

For more pizza adventures, check out our guides to the best pizza in Chicago, best pizza in Brooklyn, and best pizza in Boston. Whether you prefer thin crust, sweet and zesty flavors, or a greasy delight, Milwaukee has something for every pizza lover.

Hidden Gems

Every pizza lover knows the best slices are often found in unexpected places. Here are three hidden gems in Milwaukee serving up some of the best pizza in Milwaukee.

Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.: Beyond Coffee

Who knew a coffee roasting company could make incredible pizza? Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. offers Neapolitan-style pizzas that are spectacular. Picture a perfect balance of good charring, well-applied toppings, and a Naples-made wood-fired oven. It’s the kind of place where you can grab a coffee and a slice without feeling like you’ve committed a culinary crime.

FeatureDetail
StyleNeapolitan
Oven TypeWood-fired
Notable ToppingFresh ingredients

Lou Malnati’s: Chicago’s Finest in Milwaukee

When Lou Malnati’s set up shop in Milwaukee, I did a happy dance. Originating from Chicago in the 1940s, this place is known for its deep-dish pizzas made from scratch. Imagine biting into a pie loaded with California vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. It’s like having a slice of Chicago without the traffic.

FeatureDetail
OriginChicago
CheeseFresh mozzarella
TomatoesCalifornia vine-ripened

For more on Chicago-style pizza, check out our guide on the best pizza in Chicago.

Flour Girl and Flame: Unique Creations

Flour Girl and Flame is a woman-owned business that goes beyond just serving pizza. This place supports women growers, LGBT producers, and farmers of color. Their wood-fired pies are a feast for the eyes and stomach. One unique creation, the “Pretty Big Dill,” features garlic sauce, dill pickles, and bacon. It’s the kind of pizza that makes you think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

FeatureDetail
Business TypeWoman-owned
Unique ToppingDill pickles
SauceGarlic

For more unique pizza spots, read about the best pizza in Portland or the best pizza in Austin.

These hidden gems prove Milwaukee’s pizza scene is full of delicious surprises. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Neapolitan, classic Chicago deep-dish, or something adventurous, these spots have got you covered.

Local Favorites

Caradaro Club Legacy

The Caradaro Club in Milwaukee is a true pizza legend. Founded by Joe Todaro and John Caravella, this place quickly became the go-to spot for many locals. I remember standing in line, eagerly waiting to sink my teeth into their unique pizza. The crust is the real star here—flaky, crispy, and made with a heavenly blend of cake flour, yeast, baker’s malt, lard, and olive oil. The sauce is kept simple with crushed tomatoes and minimal seasoning, allowing the toppings to shine.

Their pizzas are oblong and cut into squares, making each bite a delightful experience. The toppings are classic but done right: pepperoni, sausage, olives, mushrooms, and onions. The Caradaro legacy lives on, with many local pizzerias like Calderone Club and Balistreri’s serving their own versions of this classic Milwaukee-style pizza.

Transfer Pizzeria Café: Beyond Pizza

Transfer Pizzeria Café, near the iconic Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, is a cozy, independent pizzeria offering more than just pizza (Visit Milwaukee). This spot is perfect for those days when you’re craving a classic pie but also want to keep your options open. They serve a variety of dishes including pasta, wings, and sandwiches.

The vibe here is relaxed and welcoming, making it a great place to hang out with friends or family. Their pizzas are made with fresh ingredients, ensuring each bite is as delicious as the last. If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss out on this gem. Plus, they have some killer vegan options!

Flourchild Pizza: Handcrafted Love

For a pizza that combines artistry with deliciousness, Flourchild Pizza in downtown Milwaukee is the place to be. These folks specialize in handcrafted, wood-fired pizzas made with heirloom flour, Wisconsin cheese, and locally sourced ingredients.

Their menu is filled with unique pies with pop-culture-laden titles like “Mean Girl,” “Curd Your Enthusiasm,” and “Casa Bonita.” Each pizza is a work of art, both in flavor and presentation. The crust is perfectly charred, the toppings are fresh and inventive, and the overall experience is delightful. Flourchild Pizza is a must-visit for anyone looking to indulge in some of the best pizza in Milwaukee.

PizzeriaSpecialtiesLocation
Caradaro ClubFlaky, crispy crust, oblong shapesVarious locations
Transfer Pizzeria CaféClassic pies, pasta, wings, sandwichesNear Allen-Bradley Clock Tower
Flourchild PizzaHandcrafted, wood-fired, unique titlesDowntown Milwaukee

For more pizza adventures, explore the best pizza in Chicago, best pizza in Brooklyn, or even the best pizza in the world. Happy pizza hunting!