Helena Marie Fahnrich
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More Pizza for Milwaukee

Blaze Pizza opens at Bay Shore. Plus, a new downtown soup spot and a new Walker's Point cafe.

By - Oct 6th, 2014 10:40 am


Preceded by a blitz of press releases, the national franchise operation Blaze Pizza opened its second Milwaukee area pizzeria in the Bayshore Town Center October 2nd. The first was in Brookfield last fall. The franchise began in California back in 2012 and as of September had opened 40 locations nationally.

John Walch, owner and operator of the Blaze restaurants in Wisconsin, has been in the franchise business for many years. As former operating partner and president of Panera Bread in Wisconsin, Walch saw Panera grow from a single location into the $57 million-a-year operation we see today. His vision for Dairy State Blazes is six in total: “We’ll probably be in Madison next year and are continuing to look for more Milwaukee locations,” he says.

Blaze’s food is often described as fast-casual, but Walch emphasizes the handmade aspects of their pizza: “It is artisanal pizza with high-quality fresh ingredients, but it is also fast. And what makes the pizza so unique is that you are co-creating them. These are individual thin crust pizzas, but you get to pick exactly what you want – so you can make anything from a really traditional pepperoni and mushroom to something more unique like gorgonzola cheese, artichoke hearts and arugula. All of our dough is made fresh in-house,” he adds. “It’s fermented for 24 hours, which allows it to develop a little more flavor.”

Pizza originated in Naples and is embedded in the culture. There is even an official association in Naples that maintains guidelines. Ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes grown on volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius and fresh mozzarella from semi-wild water buffalo are common. They cook their pizza in stone ovens set to 905 degrees for 60-90 seconds.

“Comparing our pizza to that made in Italy is tricky because depending on where in Italy you are it will be a little bit different,” Blaze says. “Ours is a little crispier than a traditional Naples pizza, but it’s the same concept – real thin, and baked with the same technology – a traditional stone deck oven,” he says. “We set ours between 7-800 degrees and it cooks a pizza in under 180 seconds so you can’t just let it go like with a conveyer oven until it comes out done on the other end. It takes a trained pizza-smith to rotate it, to make sure it does not get too close to the flames and will bake evenly.”

In non-pizza news, today marks the soft opening of The Uncanny Soup Co., located downtown at 612 N. Water St., with tomorrow bringing its official opening. The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch. As the name hints, all the soup is made in-house. Milwaukee Business Journal reports the owners are currently planning a second location downtown.

Richard’s Café opens today in Walker’s Point. The café/deli will serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday 7:00 – 3:00 p.m. and is located in the Tannery Business Center at 700 W. Virginia St., suite 203.

The Simmer Truck is known for traversing the city providing soups, as well as vegan and gluten free fare, but also for its catering services.Owners Steve Perlstein and Jennifer Block are now planning an opening of The Simmer Café at 720 N. Water St. for November.

BelAir Cantina debuted its third location on 2625 N. Downer Ave. last Thursday. The restaurant occupies the former location of Via Downer, which closed back in June, meaning Mexican fare now supplants Italian here.

Veteran diners will remember Heaven City, the restaurant out in Mukwonago. According to the Journal Sentinel, Heaven City will re-open next month as Troy’s Heaven City Supper Club. Heaven City, located at S91-W27850 National Ave, closed two months ago.

Now Changing:

President and Co-owner of SURG restaurant group Omar L. Shaikh appears to be setting in motion a new venture that will combine both 725 and 729 N. Milwaukee St. (former locations of Kennedy’s and Charro, respectively). It’s not clear as yet if the location will become a restaurant or bar.

Now Closing:

Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern (1110 N. Old World Third St.) closed down September 29th.Ale Asylum is making plans to obtain the former location according to Milwaukee Business Journal.

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