schlemiel, schlimazel

When genuine stress threatens, it’s nice to take a step back.

Last week, we gratefully sunk ourselves all the way back into the turn of the century, velvet covered, ambitious immigrant charm of downtown Milwaukee.

Sometimes, you need a good schnitzel.

With foul weather pounding, we stuck close to our quarters at the Pfister Hotel, founded by German immigrant Guido Pfister in 1893. We stepped out the back door and walked two blocks west to Karl Ratzsch’s where we pretty much had the run of the place for the early bird specials.

I took a moment to imagine how many people had taken that same stroll in the past 120 years. Guido himself, with his powerful son Charles, must have enjoyed a strudel or two courtesy of the Hermann/Ratzsch family.

I find Milwaukee’s ethnic neighborhoods fascinating.

The next day, we swung through the east side neighborhoods and enjoyed the similar, though far more casual, historical ambience in Gloriosos Italian grocery store. The beauty of this sweet little hunk of history is that its founders still slice the sausage. Joe, Ted and Eddie Glorioso, who opened the store in 1945, stand as healthy testaments to the elixirs found in pure olive oil and fresh mozzarella.

Pressed for time, we moved quickly through row after row of delicious cheeses, pastas, olives, gelato, and breads. I bought a few delicacies for the folks back home.

Then we walked one block east to Sciortinos bakers for even more Italian treats.

Take a step back next time you’re in Milwaukee (take several, you’re going to need to walk off a lot of calories) and visit some of these true local treasures.

Sciortinos bakery has a delicious display of Italian cookies.
Rows and rows of homemade pasta greet visitors at Gloriosos.
Nothing better than homemade gelato.
Who even knew that so many varieties of olives existed in this world?
Homemade Italian takeout. Yum yum.
And this was only one aisle of cheese!
Joe Ted and Eddie Glorioso
How cool is this? The founders still show up!
The room looked exactly like this when we ate at Karl Ratszch's last week and, probably, when the Pfisters dined there 80 years ago.
The room looked exactly like this when we ate at Karl Ratzsch’s last week and, probably, when the Pfisters dined there 100 years ago.

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