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Friday, November 2, 2012

Great Pizza in a Dangerous Neighborhood! Taste of Milwaukee

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 After living in Salt Lake City 19 years, one of the things I miss most about Milwaukee and Wisconsin is the great food. Milwaukee was settled by many different ethnic groups (German, Italian, Polish, etc) and they brought their authentic recipes and ingredients with them. When it comes to pizza, it seems that out west, thin crust seems not so popular. I miss the pizzas with a mouthful of great meat, (real) cheese and spicy sauce toppings instead of half tasteless crust. I last had Hup's on a visit to my brother's house a couple of years ago. Same great pizza, same great taste that we remember so well. What follows is a review of Hup’s Pizza, from Onmilwaukee.com, which is located near our old house on Milwaukee’s northwest side. I will always remember going with my dad in the 60's in the family car (a 1957 Chrysler New Yorker) to pick up our large cheese, sausage, mushroom and onion pizza and bringing it back home to our family. Looking at that picture below makes my mouth water! Started in the mid-60’s and still going strong today (with some much needed operational changes, to prevent robberies). Now, because of the neighborhood, you enter a small lobby, no windows, stand behind bulletproof glass, get your pizza through a sliding tray after passing your cash through (no credit cards)! I hope the author succeeds in getting an interview with the owner, Bobby Rodgers. I'll keep you posted. Link follows to another post I did about Milwaukee's current troubles.


onmilwaukee.com
Thanks to and written by Rick Rodriguez, special to OnMilwaukee.com Link to their site follows:
I honestly cannot remember how or when I heard about Hup's Pizza, 5400 W. Hampton Ave., but the name kept popping up online and among a few friends, so I thought it was time to try it.  
I called in my order, which was a challenge. I don't know if it was the phone or the guy on the other end, but everything he said was mumbled, so I had to ask him to repeat everything. Eventually, I ordered my usual sausage and pepperoni pie.
When I arrived, the building looked a little smaller than I expected from the picture I saw online. It was about the size of my garage, painted in green and red. It certainly had a historic look to it. I later learned from the staff that Hup's Pizza has been in business for 45 years, and I'm guessing they've been in the same building.
I entered the lobby and was surprised at how small it was, but I guess you don't need much space for carry-out orders. It must have been 6 feet by 6 feet. There were two of us in the lobby, and it felt crowded.
There was a menu board on the wall next to the pick-up window. The menu was hand-written and listed the pizza sizes and prices by number of toppings, along with a few other items such as garlic bread and cheese bread. The window was about 12 inches by 18 inches in the middle of the wall. There were no doors in the lobby that led to the kitchen. The employees entered through a back door.
I walked up to the window and looked to the right into the kitchen to try and make eye contact with one of the employees to let them know I was there. A young man greeted me and told me my pizza would be up in a couple of minutes. I slid my payment under the window and waited patiently. So far, this was an interesting experience.
Eventually I arrived home ready to eat my pizza. I appreciated that it was wrapped in two pizza bags to help protect my car and clothes from stains.
The first thing I noticed was that the toppings were loaded on. There was so much pepperoni, it almost completely covered the thick layer of cheese. The chunks of Italian sausage were also plentiful. Hup's clearly does not skimp on toppings.
The crust was very thin throughout. It was crispy around the outer edge and softer toward the center. Slices were cut in squares of various sizes. The sauce had a subtle spiciness to it, but the seasoning created a great flavor. (Well done, Hup's!)
Hup's pizzas are thin crust, and come in 12-inch or 14-inch sizes with prices starting at $10.99. There weren't any specialty pizzas listed, and the menu was simple. Low overhead has proven to be a good strategy for a successful business. I'm sure this also allows Hup's to focus on what they do best.
The flavorful sauce and abundance of toppings certainly make Hup's worthy of another visit someday, and maybe I'll get to meet the owner, Bobby Rogers. I'd love to learn about the history of Hup's and its recipes, as well as how many generations of family have been involved.
Unfortunately, he was not in the day of my visit, nor another day that I called and asked for him. All I was able to get was his name. With 45 years in business, there has to be a great story, or two, to share.

Click here to link to onmilwaukee.com

My post on the troubled city of Milwaukee: Click here to link to milwaukee-gas-station-robbery-new-normal.html

More links to great Wisconsin Food!
Great Milwaukee Burger!
Shaffer's Famous Chicken! Crivitz

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