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Milw. - Anything better than Sanford's?

Hey all. I'm looking for a great restaurant experience in the Milwaukee area. I have been to Sanford's before and was blown away by how good it was. Is there any other restaurant in the area that stands up to Sanford's quality of food and service? I'm open to all cuisines, but I have a special place in my stomach for great, authentic Italian. I've been to Ristorante Bartolotta and Osteria del Mondo, but its been some time since each. Is Sanford's still the king for one-in-a-kind dining in Milwaukee? Open to any and all suggestions.

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  1. I'm not suggesting that Zarletti is Sanford's equivalent, but I think it's very good Italian.

    http://www.zarletti.net/

    7 Replies
    1. re: mike_d

      I take it you've been to Sanford's, Mike? What did you think of your experience there?

      1. re: pastry634

        Actually, I'm just reporting the received wisdom of at least 10 close friends of mine.

        I'm dying to go (and I've been dying now for longer than any human ever has !), but despite my better half's excellent taste in food, both dining and home cooked, she doesn't care for the glitz that can go with fine dining, nor some of the preparations. So, I haven't gotten there yet.

        Maybe I can convince her for my birthday..........

        1. re: mike_d

          Interestingly, I had the same feeling towards fine dining as your better half. I was afraid that Sanford's would be too stuffy and pretentious to enjoy the meal. That was, however, before I ate there. After my meal, I couldn't have been more wrong. It's a small dining area, but not a crammed dining area. One of my biggest fears of eating in such an upscale place was that I would talk too loud :P. However, you can have conversations with your dining companions at a reasonable volume, enjoy some laughs, and have a good time without recieving unwanted glares. Above all else, the waitstaff was not only knowledgable about the menu items, but also exuded a passion about the food they were serving - something you don't find much these days. It was a great experience with fantastic food (which I didn't even mention until now!). Hope you get to go some time.

          1. re: pastry634

            I think I'll print out your note and take it home. Perhaps it'll turn the trick.

            But, then, going back to comparing Zarletti (haven't been to the places Living4fun notes below), the waitstaff is good, but not as good as you mention above. The food is pretty traditional Italian (not quite my mom's red sauce/gravy type of traditional), well executed. There's a couple of raves on this board about their osso buco, which I haven't tried. Their sauces are very good. So, yeah, good, but not in Sanford's league it seems.

            1. re: mike_d

              Yeah, through my research on Chow and other sites, it seems that Sanford's is often set apart from other fine Milwaukee restaurants - almost as if its assumed to always be a recommended restaurant in the area.

              1. re: pastry634

                Maybe that's because those of us fortunate enough to have dined there know that it's THAT GOOD! :)

    2. How about Bacchus? We have had fantastic dining experiences. Waitstaff very professional, memorable meals. http://www.bacchusmke.com/

      I still like Sanfords over Bacchus, but Bacchus is a great restaurant.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Living4fun

        I have thought of another high caliber restaurant, Dream Dance. Impeccable service and outstanding food. It's even better now that they have relocated to the first floor of the casino.
        http://paysbig.com/dining/dreamdance/

      2. Of course, Adam Siegel of Bacchus & Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro just won a Beard. http://www.onmilwaukee.com/dining/art...

        1. Yes, Sanford does take the cake here, but I'd also highly recommend Roots in Brewer's Hill. They have their own farm north of the city and also use a lot of produce from Will Allen's Growing Power (if you don't know it: http://www.growingpower.org/. He just won a MacArthur Genius Award). Roots has the most beautiful view of the city and is very down-to-earth. Let me know what you think!

          2 Replies
          1. re: saltpepper

            Another place on my list to get to. (that list keeps getting longer.......)

            A big "yes" to Growing Power produce. Very good stuff.

            1. re: mike_d

              Yeah, I've Roots to be very good. I've heard good things about Bacchus, too. Too many to try!