Charlie Berens’ Lunch Rec, a Must-Try Pizza and More Dining Tidbits

Brute’s expertly crafted pizzas, an update on The Cheel, plus dining news and ope, Charlie Berens!

Brute’s Sourdough Pies Turn Pizza Making Into an Art

“I have a weird tendency to pick hard stuff,” says Jackie Woods, who, with Paris Dreibelbis, operates Brute Pizza in the Third Ward’s Landmark building (316 N. Milwaukee St.).

The “hard stuff” was perfecting that sourdough crust with its flavor-building three-day fermentation. Everything from the flour (Wisconsin heritage, stone-milled) to the water to the time of year affects this crust. “It’s a labor of love, and you have to touch and touch and touch it to understand it,” says Dreibelbis, who was first exposed to – and “blown away by” – sourdough pies in San Francisco.



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There’s a subtle, graceful tang to Brute’s chewy, thick-edged base that reveals itself with each bite. The toppings add character, too, like the “P.P.P.P.” – pepperoni, bell and peppadew peppers and earthy Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese. Each month, Brute also features a seasonal pie.

One Woods plans to debut is cacio e pepe, which translates to “cheese and pepper” and gets its brightness from the zing of the ground peppercorns. 

The Cheel’s Comeback

IN THESE TIMES, it’s well-nigh guaranteed that a restaurant-to-be will experience delays. And yet, The Cheel, the Thiensville Nepali establishment destroyed by fire in 2020, seems to be uncommonly plagued by rebuilding challenges. But despite the litany of hold-ups that put this joint-everyone’s-rooting-for in limbo for two-plus years, co-owner Barkha Limbu Daily says her team has midsummer 2023 as their fingers-crossed return date. On the culinary side, the new Cheel will have a menu that “brings back some things people loved” (e.g., the momo dumplings), as well as creations that “better reflect the diversity” of Nepali cuisine. But she’s also realistic. “We will open with a smaller menu,” she says, hoping that the next several months will truly move them forward. “We need all the positive juju and prayers we can get.”

Charlie Berens’ Lunch Rec

Funky Fresh Spring Rolls “is close to my place, so I’ll stop in for lunch. They’ve even got some frozen ones you can take home. My favorite is the buffalo chicken. Pro tip: they go great with (or in) a bloody mary.” 

– Comedian Charlie Berens

Funky Fresh Spring Rolls, at Sherman Phoenix, 3536 W. Fond du Lac. Ave.

Late-night soup fix? Good Soup (3135 S. 92nd St.) – featuring stuffed pepper, mushroom barley and others – serves until 2 a.m. on Fri-Sat.  •  Adjacent to Miss Molly’s café, Sully’s Sandwiches (9211 W. Center St.) debuts this month with double bacon BLTs and meatball hoagies.  •  “Skinny pancakes” are what Kate Bryan’s family called crepes, and she’ll have savory and sweet variations of them at her Riverwest creperie Seven Swans (808 E. Chambers St.), opening in (hopefully) early 2023.  •  Lazy Susan (2378 S. Howell Ave.) has entered the brunch game, serving Sundays 10 a.m.-2 p.m., while Goodkind (2457 S. Wentworth Ave.) has switched up its Sunday hours, ending brunch service and picking up dinner from 5-10 p.m.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.