Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Pizza at Randy's Neighbor's Inn

Margie and I are grateful that our neighborhood in West Allis is becoming a food paradise. It would seem that every week a new and wonderful place is opening to give us a new option to explore and enjoy. There are, of course, favorites that have been here for years. You have heard me mention, and have read reviews on this very site, on West Allis Cheese and Sausage, Wild Roots and others. Even these regular establishments having been finding new ways to reinvent themselves and attract more and new clientele.

A local favorite for Friday fish fry, Randy’s Neighbor’s Inn, located at 6922 West Becher street, here in West Allis, has found a new and exciting addition to update their menu. As I mentioned they are known for a great fish fry. So good you must call and make reservations in advance. My mother swears by their shrimp dinner as well. As amazing as this regular menu is and as good as our friend Andrea is at preparing it, today we are going to focus on the latest, and for my bottom dollar greatest, menu addition Randy’s has made.

What could you possibly add to a place that has a host of delicious appetizers, and a legendary fish fry to go along with tasty sandwiches? The answer can only be one thing – pizza! When it comes to pizza, I must confess to being on the border of pizza addict and pizza snob. I could eat pizza every day of the week. With different sauces and toppings, the possibilities are endless. With all the different places in the city offering pizza, your choices on where to get your favorite slice are endless as well. It is with this in mind that I have become a bit of a pizza snob. There are a few places I have found that have such delicious offerings that to settle for anything less than amazing makes no sense. I have done my best to try every pizza place in Milwaukee, if the results are not amazing, I seldom return.

We were drawn to try the pizza at Randy’s Neighbor’s Inn by our good friend Lisa, who is the chef and creator of this pizza. Lisa and her husband own a skate shop called Transaction Skate Shop here in West Allis. As with many business owners, Lisa found herself with a little extra time on her hands during the pandemic. She decided to use this time to explore creating made from scratch pizza. Recently, Randy’s Neighbor’s Inn offered her the use of their kitchen on Saturdays to offer her creation. We decided to test out these pizzas because Lisa is a great friend, and because as I mentioned, I need little to no reason to eat pizza.

Randy’s Neighbor’s Inn gives you the atmosphere of a local corner tavern but with the addition of a side room for dinning. This evening, Margie and I choose to dine in the bar area. Our bartender this evening, Mari, provided us with a tall, cold Captain and coke. If anything can add joy to pizza for me, it is rum.

When it comes to ways to customize these mouth-watering delights you have quite a few options. We begin with the crust. You can choose either the thin crust or hand tossed. We both enjoy a thicker crust and were grateful for the hand tossed option. You then can choose your meat options if you desire. These include Italian sausage, pepperoni and bacon. I chose the sausage, Margie added pepperoni to hers.  The list of vegetables includes fresh mushrooms, raw onions, green peppers, black olives, green olives and jalapeno peppers. You also have the option of getting extra cheese. Margie and I had the fresh mushrooms, raw onions and green olives.

From the time you order, depending on how busy they are, you can have your pizza in 10 to 15 minutes. When it arrived, the aroma was so overwhelming we almost both threw caution to the wind and dove in. However, I have burned my mouth on hot pizza more times than I care to admit and know it is not incredibly fun. To prevent this terrible condition from occurring we fought our urges and sat on our hands as long as we could. This did not last exceptionally long because the temptation was too great, and our hands were becoming numb. If this brief period of time we both made observations about the presentation of the pizza. Working from outside in, we will start from the crust. It had the golden-brown color you would desire. Not overdone and burnt, but not under cooked and doughy either. You could tell there was a good amount of sauce as some shown through. Dry pizza is a person pet peeve of mine. Despite being able to see the sauce, there was the perfect amount of cheese as well. The toppings were not only perfectly placed, but there were certainly enough of them. Now for the real test, the taste.

Picking up the first slice you immediately notice several things. The first of which is the crust, although thin on the bottom, it holds up well with the weight of the toppings. The other thing we noticed is the cheese and toppings stayed in place. When wrapping your lips around the first slice there is an explosion of flavor in your mouth. If Margie and I had to pay for every time we uttered the word “Wow” we would be poor. Lisa informed us that she uses whole milk mozzarella cheese. The creaminess and flavor it added cannot be understated. Then there was the sauce. In my opinion, one of, if not thee, most important aspects of a pizza. If the sauce is too sweet, I think it ruins anything else on the pizza. Lisa makes her sauce from scratch with a secret recipe that any pizza chef would envy. Add to that the afore mentioned whole milk mozzarella and the fresh vegetables and your taste buds will get dizzy because they will not know which way to turn.

When it came to the meat, the word I would choose is balance. Often Italian sausage on pizza can fall into one of two categories. It can be so full of fennel that it overwhelms the rest of the ingredients. On the other end of the spectrum is pizza that consists of ground up hamburger doing its best impersonation of Italian sausage. Both leave one feeling a little disappointed. This sausage managed to straddle the line between the two. Enough flavor to let you know it was not ground hamburger, but not so overpowering it left you full of regret for adding it to your pizza. The pepperoni was the same thing. I, personally, do not order pepperoni because it can be too greasy and give me heartburn. This is especially true for cheap pepperoni. Not in the case of Lisa’s homemade pizza at Randy’s Neighbor’s Inn. The pepperoni had a delicious flavor and was not greasy. You could certainly taste it, but it also blended well with the other ingredients.

With all these amazing aspects of this pizza, I have saved the best for last. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the most amazing pizza crust I have ever consumed. After 45 years consuming delicious sauce pies around the country this is no small accomplishment. As we discussed earlier it held up to the toppings remarkably well. Lisa told us she ferments the dough for three days prior to creating the pizza. This imparts a divine flavor I have not tasted in any pizza crust prior. When we reached the edge of the crust, we were a bit nervous. We even saved some marinara and ranch sauce in case it proved to be too dry or chewy. This turned out to be a fool’s endeavor. The texture was bubbly, fluffy, airy, flakey and had just enough chewiness to it. I will describe the flavor to you, but it is something you owe it to yourself to experience. Much like describing a work of art one has seen, words will fall short of conveying the true nature of this culinary work of art. You begin with that mouth-watering flavor of that fermented dough. To this you add a brush of garlic butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. This may sound simple, and it is, but in this case simple equals perfection. Between our ‘oohs’ and ‘wows’ Margie and I not only did not feel the desire to use any of the sauces we saved, but we also forgot they were even there. In fact, I would go so far as to say everything else around us faded away except for each other and this delicious pizza we were consuming.

If I had any reservations about this pizza adventure it would consist of two things. The first of which would be that eventually the pizza disappeared. I am sure I did not eat it all myself and that someone may have stolen a slice while I was lost in flavor bliss, but I cannot be sure. The second challenge is that it is only available on Saturdays from 5 to 10 pm. Waiting an entire week for another taste of this may seem like an eternity, but it will give Margie and I something to look forward to the entire week. It is my belief that when others discover this pizza there will be reservations required on Saturday just as there is on Friday for the fish fry. If you taste this pizza, Saturday will become your new favorite day of the week.

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