Pitch’s Ribs, Milwaukee

Pitch’s Ribs, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Rating: a solid 3.5 out of 5 Old Fashioneds

Relish Tray: no
Salad Situation: side salad
Ice Cream Drinks: no, but the tiramisu looked interesting
Ambience: lots of mirrors, large stained glass panels, leaded glass lampshapes, but just too bright!

Self-described as “Milwaukee’s Favorite Supper Club”, Pitch’s is nestled in the busy Brady Street neighborhood of Milwaukee – not exactly the idyllic, woodsy, lakeside setting that might come to mind when you picture a Wisconsin supper club. Just blocks away from Pitch’s is the ever-popular BelAir Cantina, where swarms of millennials flock for taco Tuesdays. Despite their physical proximity, the two neighbors represent two ends of the restaurant spectrum, from young and flashy to classic and nostalgic. Together, they practically serve as a lesson in the history of American dining, or at least Wisconsin dining. Pitch’s is a relic from the era when Brady Street was a predominantly Italian neighborhood, along with Glorioso’s and Sciortino’s Bakery.

When we entered Pitch’s, notably one of the only restaurants in the area with the convenience parking lot, it was pretty quiet, even for a Monday night. As soon as you step inside, you forget that you’re in downtown Milwaukee, and in the year 2019. Just a handful of tables were occupied in the dining room, though laughter could be heard from the much busier bar area. The ambiance felt just about right; mirrored walls, leaded glass lampshades, stained glass panels of art nouveau-esque women, and a fire in the fireplace. If anything, it was just a tad too brightly lit for our taste.

As soon as we sat down, our server brought a little bowl of butter packets to the table. She was a bright, cheery woman, quick to call us, “my dears”. Owen had to order an olive in his old fashioned, as they did not have pickled mushrooms, but that barely seemed to matter as we sipped them with “That’s Amore” playing in the background. We started the meal with rumaki, water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and served with a honey mustard sauce. Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts are a Christmas tradition in my family and have a special place in my heart. Pitch’s rumaki were not the same bar-b-que laden ones of my childhood, but they offered their own delicious take. They were well cooked, and came in a meaty, vinegary, sweet sauce that we both slathered on our bread later. The bread basket had both slices of bread and pre-packaged breadsticks, including “mutli-flavor”, something Owen and I had not seen before

For our entrees, I went with the Monday night steak special, and Owen chose the Trio Combination, one junior order of Pitch’s ribs, two deep fried shrimp and one 5oz spiedini. Spiedini, as it turns out, is a steer filet, rolled, stuffed with cheese, bread crumbs, currants and red onion, and served with mariana, though Owen thought it was Pitch’s Bar-B-Que sauce, and missed the opportunity eat it with his spiedini. The entrees came with either a soup or a salad, and a side. We both chose side salads, mine with French and Owen’s with herbed sour cream and bleu cheese chunks.

Owen and I always try a bite of each other’s meals, and we had a bit of a disagreement about the famous Pitch’s ribs. I was raised on ribs from chain restaurants, and I don’t mind an oven roasted rack of ribs. Owen, however, greatly prefers his ribs smoked, but we both agreed we would have liked a little side of bar-b-que sauce. My steak was served with a heaping pile of onion strings, and a delicious au jous. Pasta salad was a tempting side option, a nod to the establishment’s Italian roots, but I just can’t help myself when it comes to supper club hashbrowns. Pitch’s hashbrowns did not disappoint at all – only in that I was too full to finish them.

Our eager server stopped at our table often, clearing up plates and butter wrappers almost as soon as we were done with them. When I couldn’t finish my hashbrowns, she packed them up in a true ‘doggy bag’, returned to me wrapped in a white paper bag that was even stapled shut. She was so efficient at clearing our table that all that was left when we stood up to put on our coats were a couple of sauce stains on the white paper tablecloth. All in all, Pitch’s Ribs is a unique supper club, especially because of its urban location. As our server said, “We’ll see you again”. Indeed.

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