Home of Beer, Brats, and…Body Building??

The Mission: Feed an Australian body builder as many carbs and calories as humanly possible in one day. MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED.

The Story: Along with our regularly scheduled City Tours and Food Tours, we are often busy bees organizing private tours for bachelorette and bachelor parties and corporate outings…but this private tour was different. We were contacted by Leone Catalano, a professional body builder from Australia who had made plans to celebrate his birthday by visiting Milwaukee in between competitions and eating the amazing food this city has to offer! (Can everyone say “Cheese curds?” Great. Now say “Bratwurst.” Now say “Beer.”…You can see the carbs adding up here already…) Sometimes people come to us with an amazing list of places they want to see on their visit to The Good Land, and it is our job to pull together the logistics for a seamless tour outing. This was one of those times!

Let’s stop for a moment to recognize how meant-to-be this tour was. Leone Catalano. Leon’s Custard. Catalano Square. This man was meant to eat his way through Milwaukee! So we created a one-person itinerary that was made to suit.

Showing off Milwaukee

Our co-founder Wade met Leone at 8:30am at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, because you can’t eat all day if you don’t start in the morning. They began their journey with a walk to Holey Moley Doughnuts & Coffee for…you guessed it, you sleuth, you: a doughnut and a coffee. And we all know that calories eaten while standing don’t count, and we hear that if you walk while eating a donut it’s like eating a carrot (don’t look it up, just take our word for it), so the morning treat was paired with a walking tour of the Historic Third Ward.

The morning tour was followed by a lovely drive along Milwaukee’s Lakefront, complete with views of the stunning Art Museum, the timeless North Point Lighthouse, and a stop on Historic Brady Street. As most Milwaukeeans will surely tell you, a Brady Street stop isn’t complete without a visit to the two long-time institutions of the neighborhood: Glorioso’s Italian Market and Peter Sciortino Bakery — known in these parts simply as “Glorioso’s” and “Sciortino’s.” Both businesses have been a beacon of Italian food and culture for over 7 decades, and are featured weekly on our Brady Street Lunch Tour. So Leone was treated to a mini cannoli at Sciortino’s and a family-owned-store grocery shopping experience at Glorioso’s.

Next up, Milwaukee-brewed beer!

After setting a foundational layer of morning eats, Wade and Leone traveled by foot over to Lakefront Brewery, just across the Milwaukee River from Brady Street. A brewery? At 10:45am? What? You’re in Wisconsin! You can’t drink all day if you don’t start before noon! But it would be irresponsible to do so without a hearty, heaping helping of cheese curds (and a walking plan or a designated driver!!), so Wade and Leone accompanied their local craft beer with the oh-so-Wisco fried gooey cheesy goodness.
After a solid pre-lunch, the City Tour continued with a drive past some of Milwaukee’s historical breweries that put the city on the map. And then it was time for lunch! Brats, beer, balls of fried cheese…and burgers. Milwaukee, we will have you know, is also known for some outstanding bunned beef patties. And if you don’t believe it, follow Wade and Leone’s lead by trying a famous Solly’s butter burger.

Shop till you drop in Milwaukee

What better way to work off lunch than with a flex and a selfie! But not just any selfie, a pose with the one and only Bronze Fonz. Arthur Fonzarelli would be proud. A post-Fonz stroll down Old World Third Street was a lovely transition before leaving downtown Milwaukee and heading to Collector’s Edge Comics South and South Ridge Mall. Under Armour is apparently a hot commodity here so we had to give our guest time to stock up! Other fun stops included the American Science & Surplus Store and the Lost World of Wonders Comic Book Store. 

At this point it had been too long without food, so it was a custard emergency! Ok, ok, not a real emergency, but there was certainly a sense of urgency to try some of the best custard this side of Jupiter. And as mentioned before, what better custard stand to treat our Australian ambassador Leone to than Leon’s? What a treat!

The last stop of the day was to give Leone the true Milwaukee pizza experience. We had to make sure he was served the original recipe that debuted in the Third Ward at Catalano Square. Why? History. Also deliciousness. Also, because Leone’s last name is Catalano. And the first pizza in Milwaukee was served at the Caradaro Club…in Catalano Square. It gets better. Catalano Square is named as such after the 5 Sicilian Catalano brothers who founded it and were a defining source of the business boom during the Italian era of Milwaukee. How many brothers does Leone have? 5. 

Last stop: Milwaukee’s original pizza!

While the Caradaro Club is no longer located off the park at Catalano Square, it fortunately still exists west of downtown and to this day makes the delicious, thin-crust tavern-cut pizza (think easy-to-hold squares and rectangles rather than a triangle) that Milwaukee is known for. We go to this pizzeria every Saturday night with our famous Milwaukee Pizza Bus tour, so off Leone and Wade went to devour some of the original thin crust pizza recipe created by Milwaukee’s first pizza establishment! And of course said pizza was washed down with some delicious beer!

Cultural differences occur in many forms. Sometimes it is the thing that is the most blasé in one country that is an object of true amazement to someone from another country. And one of Leone Catalano’s cultural takeaways was the flat paper pizza bags that many restaurants send off their pizzas in, rather than a bulky cardboard pizza box. He confided that a dream of his is to one day open a diner in Australia, so when he has finished his body building world tour, perhaps we can all travel to Australia to get some thin crust, tavern-cut Milwaukee-style pizza in a takeaway bag from his restaurant and go eat it on the beach watching the surfers ride the waves…

Though it is bittersweet, it is true that “all great tummies get full” (or is it “all good things must end?”), and thus the calorie-loaded Leone and Wade returned to the Journeyman for their farewell. 

And what a delicious journey it was. 

Milwaukee Food & City Tours is proud to craft custom tours for guests of all sizes. If this is your one visit to Milwaukee and you want to make sure to see all of your favorites, allow us to create your itinerary and show us our favorite place.

You pick the tour route, date and time that works best for your group, and email us at events@milwaukeefoodtours.com with your interest. From there, we’ll handle the rest. Five days prior to the tour date we’ll need a final head count, list of any vegetarians, and payment via credit card or check. Literally, it is that easy!