Along the way, we stopped at Glorioso’s Italian Market, so authentic you practically need a passport to cross the threshold. It’s a Tuscan or Umbrian village magically transported to Milwaukee via flavors, scents and aromas.
Nemetz even led us past a statue of one of Milwaukee’s coolest fictional residents: Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli of Happy Days fame.
One of my most memorable dining experiences was at Bacchus in the historic Cudahy Tower. The hardwood flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive views of Lake Michigan only add to the fact that the food was extraordinary.
After an appetizer of sea scallops, my palate moved to the barnyard with my choice of a delicious pan-roasted chicken with eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini that paired perfectly with a pinot gris from New Zealand. The entire meal was scrumptious.
There’s that “who knew?” factor again — it was a complete surprise that Milwaukee is such a great culinary destination.
HOGS & BREWS
I’m not much of a cliche person, but it fits here. There truly is something for everyone in Milwaukee. The Harley-Davidson Museum appeals to all the wild hogs out there, while the North Point Lighthouse and Schlitz Audubon Nature Center might be more for the mild hogs.
The architectural gem of the Pabst Mansion, once the home of beer baron Frederick Pabst, is for history fans, but so is the Grohmann Museum that features the Man at Work Collection that documents the evolution of organized work over the course of 400 years.
Milwaukee also offers brewery and distillery tours through Great Lakes Distillery, Milwaukee Brewing Co. and Miller Brewery. The Milwaukee Brewers baseball franchise plays at Miller Field.
If you’re a little more adventurous, take in Lake Michigan from the gorgeous, stately S.V. Denis Sullivan Tall Ship. When night falls, pedal away on the Pedal Tavern, a 16-person tavern-on-wheels bicycle that follows a designated pub crawl route. Or kayak downtown on the Milwaukee River with Laacke and Joys, a rental gear and sporting equipment store that’s more than 160 years old.
While I may not have found Laverne and Shirley in Milwaukee, all those preconceived notions of the city were whisked away, and I give this Midwestern gem a Fonzie-cool two thumbs up.