REVIEW: Santino’s Little Italy celebrates Italian cuisine

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Photo by Phoebe Goebel

The margherita pizza featured a classic sauce with mozzarella and fresh basil, finished with a dash of olive oil.

Back at home, the kitchen is the heart of my house. While most families spend their time in living rooms, my family tends to gather in the kitchen, usually because my grandma is cooking up something for dinner that night. Coming from a family of Italian immigrants, I have very high expectations for Italian restaurants.

Last Friday, a couple of my friends and I were searching for a place to eat dinner. It was a combination of rain and snow, so all we could think about was the ultimate comfort food: pizza. After a quick Google search, we landed on a restaurant we have never tried before called Santino’s Little Italy, which claims to use ingredients that are “nothing but the best.”

Santino’s Little Italy is located at 321 E Stewart St. Their menu captures classic Italian cuisine, with their specialty being pizza.

With a group of five people, we decided to order three pizzas to share. In order to test this restaurant, we went with the most basic and classic pizza creation there is, the Margherita.

When the pizza came out, I could not wait to dive in. The crust was thin but still fluffy, and I could tell it was cooked in a wood-fired oven by the marks on the crust. The sauce covered the entire pie, and sprinkled on it was fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

The taste of the pizza was phenomenal. The sauce was the perfect balance between savory and sweet, which is always something I look for in Italian tomato sauce. The cheese was perfectly melted in the sauce, and each slice contained a precise amount of cheese so it wouldn’t overpower the taste of the sauce. This was what I consider an authentic margherita pizza.

Next, the table decided we wanted to see what their meats were like, so we ordered the Agrigento. This pie was covered in their house-made garlic sauce, sausage, pepperoni and mozzarella. This had to be my favorite pizza of the night.

Not only was the garlic sauce delicious but paired with the sausage and pepperoni, it brought some spice to my palate. The spice was present but not overwhelming, so it heightened the flavors of the meat. This pizza might be the best pizza I’ve ever had.

Lastly, our table decided to order their special of the night. This pie was cooked in the oven with their special tomato sauce, and after it was taken out, a huge piece of fresh burrata cheese was placed in the middle. The final touch to the pizza was a garnish of kalamata olives.

This type of pizza was something that I had never tried before. I thought the concept was genius, but the execution did not turn out as I wanted it to.  Since we had to spread the cheese ourselves, it didn’t spread evenly, and it made the dough a little soggy over time. The flavors were enjoyable, but I didn’t find myself reaching for another slice because of the texture.

Typically when I order pizza, it can take up to 45 minutes for it to be served on the table. This pizza only took 10-15 minutes in the oven and was brought out fresh, which made the dining experience far more pleasant than other pizza restaurants.

The inside of the restaurant provided a comfy and welcoming environment and was the perfect place to be on a rainy day in Milwaukee. The service was quick and very friendly, which made me feel like I was sitting at my own kitchen table surrounded by my Italian family.

Overall, Santino’s Little Italy was one of the best dining experiences I have had in a while. Not only was the pizza delightful, but the entire time I felt comfortable and relaxed in the restaurant. I have lots of plans to return.

Rating: 4.5/5

This story was written by Phoebe Goebel. She can be reached at [email protected]