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Balistreri’s on 68th

June 29, 2011

Generally I don’t think of Milwaukee as a “get away” destination, but last week Mike and I both had meetings up that way so we stayed overnight.  Instead of the typical chain restaurant, I really wanted to find a neighborhood place for dinner, and after asking around we were referred to Balistreri’s on 68th for pizza.  The restaurant at this location (there is a second one on Bluemound) is more than 40 years old and the interior defines kitschy – tiny lights strung up, artificial plants and lots of knick knacks.  On a Wednesday night it was packed and it seemed like everyone knew each other, but a simple mention that we were from Chicago and had never been there, and the world opened up to us.  We got the story of the restaurant, were asked for recommendations of restaurants in Chicago and introduced to three others of the wait staff.  All of a sudden we weren’t strangers, but a part of the family.  Our waitress, Avi, is considered the youngster on the staff having worked there for only six years.  Anyway, we went with the pizza which had cracker thin crust and was crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle.  Perfect.

Not wanting to turn on the oven and heat up the house, but still having a taste for a crispy pizza, I turned to flour tortillas and the gas grill.  The flour tortillas are a quick substitute for making your own crust on a week night.  Top them with your favorites and pop them on the grill.  For one pizza we chose pesto, home-made ricotta cheese (more about that soon), and a sprinkling of grated mozzarella.  The second was topped with pesto, chopped artichoke hearts, grated mozzarella and sliced tomatoes. 

I have a three burner gas grill. I had the two outside burners on low heat and kept the middle burner off, keeping the grill temperature at about 350F.  When the pizzas were just about done I moved them so they sat over the burners that were lite, just to finish off the crusts.  Total cooking time is about 7 – 10 minutes – watch them closely so the crusts don’t burn.

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