P is for Pizza Shuttle

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It never felt right to eat at George Webb during the day.

Webbs is among a handful of local restaurants that are busiest once Milwaukee bars make their last call–others include Ma Fischer’s, Oakland Gyros, Real Chili, Johnny V’s Classic Cafe and, I always thought, Pizza Shuttle, TJ’s winning selection for our ‘P’ dinner in this quest.

So it made sense to us that in order to get the full Pizza Shuttle experience, we had to imbibe in the amber liquid that made Milwaukee famous prior to our pizza. In early May, the seven of us (Mike joined us again) headed to the East Side to build up that late night hunger at Yield and The Hotel Foster. We arrived at Pizza Shuttle promptly at 2 a.m.

Pizza Shuttle was closed. Take-out only. We were baffled.

A couple of weeks later–the Friday before Memorial Day–we regrouped and headed to Pizza Shuttle with the sun still hanging in the sky. Adam said:

I had some pretty low expectations going into Pizza Shuttle. I knew we wouldn’t have time to get to the proper level of intoxication needed to really tear into a late-night pizza. I would have been much more excited knowing a long night of drinking was going to be paid off with gluttonous amounts of baked cheese and bread.

I had never been to Pizza Shuttle before, though some of us had. As we walked down Farwell, past some of the other places we’ve enjoyed on this quest–Jow Nai Fouquet and Comet Cafe–I was certain Pizza Shuttle would disappoint. Mike said:

When I hear the name “Pizza Shuttle” I think of a spaceship full of pizza. Why? I have no idea. When walking up to it and having to go up a flight of stairs, it sort of reminds me that I am indeed walking into a spaceship of sorts. The inside is controlled chaos where you aren’t sure where to start.

The first thing you notice in Pizza Shuttle is the smell, which brought me back to my childhood, running around Chuck E. Cheese in my socks, my pockets full of coins and tickets.

Immediately upon entering, you come upon the counter to the right, where you can order your food. To the left is a large room with a bunch of tables. All of the booths had been taken, but we pulled two of the last tables together. Several flat screen televisions are mounted high on the walls, and a smattering of seldom-played video games serve as decor. Michelle said:

The restaurant was loud and pretty busy, with a lot of families, which is different than other places we’ve been on this quest.

As we waited for TJ and Shannon to arrive, we browsed the menu and carefully perused the beer list. Adam said:

They actually have a really nice representation of Wisconsin craft brews, with options from probably 12-15 of the state’s finest. They were also pretty reasonable priced at $3.75 a bottle.

I had an O’so IPA that is excellent.

Appetizer

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We were pretty hungry and I made a move to the counter to order breadsticks. Adam said:

The breadsticks had just gotten done swimming in a pool of butter and did not bother toweling off. I ate them wishing I was drunk for a couple of reasons. One, it would have made it easier to excuse the shame of eating half a stick of butter. Two, with my self-control out the window, I would have been free to eat the other half stick of butter.

While we munched the sticks, which felt lighter than Pizza Hut sticks and were fluffy, buttery, delicious and cheap (less than $2 for six sticks!), we reviewed the larger-than-expected menu. Diverse offerings included sandwiches, seafood and ribs.

But the huge menu didn’t matter, once we were all there, everyone but me talked for way too long about which two pizzas they would order (I opted to get a personal pizza due to my dislike of cheese). There were more styles and flavors of pizza than I had anticipated, but this discussion could have doubled as a filibuster in Congress.

Finally, with the choices determined, we headed back to the counter to purchase our pizzas.

Veggie Pizza with pepperoni

Veggie Pizza with pepperoni

Main Course

About 20 minutes after ordering, our pizzas were ready. Adam said:

I am really not picky when it comes to pizza. I have one mainstay criteria for what I consider an acceptable slice; that the toppings don’t all go falling off when I pick up said slice. The veggie pizza was kind of a mess. Each time I tried to pick up a slice, all the toppings fell off and left a salad sitting on the pizza tray. I’m a fairly lazy man who doesn’t like re-topping his pizza after every bite. Needless to say, after the third bite, my slice became a cheese pizza.

Cindi agreed. She said:

As I was eating I thought; “Hmmm, I thought this would taste a lot worse but I wouldn’t call it good.” So I broke down the pizza to evaluate it. Crust: flavorless and soft. Not crisp or chewy like I like. Sauce: unseasoned, kind of bland. Toppings: pretty standard vegetables and pepperoni.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Michelle pushed for the Chicken Bacon Ranch option. She said:

I ate a lot of that kind of pizza from Toppers in college. In comparison to Toppers, it was not at good although I enjoyed it.

Shannon and Mike had similar opinions on the influence of alcohol on the quality of the food. Shannon said:

It wasn’t the worst pizza I’ve ever had though. Would my mind change if I hadn’t had a good amount of booze in my belly before going? More than likely.

Mike said:

I think if you had a few beverages you would be telling people it was much better than what it actually was.

Thai Red Sauce Pizza

Thai Red Sauce Pizza

I opted to order my own personal pizza. I chose the thai pizza with potatoes, red sauce, spicy tofu and peppers—a new item. WOW, I ordered a veggie item! The pizza was delicious, crisp and each element added something to the flavor without distracting from its counterparts. The most interesting was potato, which I’ve never had on a pizza before, but I found the texture and taste to be interesting and enjoyable. The pizza was only a bit on the spicy side. It was $8.50 and felt like a pretty fair price for a nine-inch pizza.

Mike, Michelle and Adam noted how much they liked my pizza. Adam said:

It kills me to say this, but Nick’s cheese-less pizza was my favorite. That should tell you everything you need to know about Pizza Shuttle when a cheese-less pizza is the best one out of the three.

Ratings for Pizza Shuttle were, as follows:

Adam: 4
Cindi: 3
Michelle: 5.5
Nick: 6.5
Shannon: 5
TJ: 6
Mike: 6.5

Pizza Shuttle cumulative rating: 5.2

We opted to skip dessert. Before we walked out the door though, we chose to pay $3 and try to fit all of us in the tiny photo booth–obviously, we didn’t fit.

Overall, the prices were fair, the beer selection was excellent and the food was edible. TJ said:

If there ever was a restaurant that should use the motto, “it is, what it is”, Pizza Shuttle should be the one. The pizza was fine. It’s pizza, it’s almost always good. Are there places that have better pizza? Absolutely. Are these places open late? Not typically. Not all food has to be gourmet to be great. Sometimes all it has to be is available.

Just make sure you get there before 2 a.m.

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Nightcap: Bonfire

Having just spent the night on the Eastside several weeks before, we opted to head back to the Town of Lake and have a bonfire at TJ’s house instead.

There, as the fire’s warmth shielded us from the still-cool late-May night, we joked, drank and made plans for a constructive summer.

Visit Pizza Shuttle online here.

Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY

Losing nominations for ‘P’ were: Pastiche (Adam, Cindi, Michelle and Nick) and Palmer’s (Shannon).

Introduction to the ABCs of Milwaukee Dining
AJ Bombers: 6.8
Beta by Sabor: 7.9
Comet Cafe: 7
Distil: 5.8
Eatery on Farwell: 6.2
Fajitas Grill: 5.3
Ginger: 7.4
Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub: 7.5
Irie Palace: 6.2
Jow Nai Fouquet: 6.9
Kyoto: 6.3
Louise’s Trattoria: 5.2
Meritage: 6.5
Newsroom Pub: 5.4
Odd Duck: 8.2
Pizza Shuttle: 5.2

WHERE ARE WE EATING NEXT?

Sadly, there are no ‘Q’ restaurants in the Milwaukee-area fitting our criteria. We opened it up to Madison and Chicago. Low and behold, this one should be easy to guess:

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