Nessun Dorma 003

Very few restaurants encompass the minimalist and lively spirit of Milwaukee’s River West scene more completely than Nessun Dorma, nestled on the corner of Hadley and Weil Street.  For several years now, I’ve been heading down to the hipster haven of River West in order to experience this unexpected jewel of a restaurant.

Believe me when I tell you, dear readers, I am a foodie, sort of like a young, (and hopefully less obnoxious) Anthony Bourdain. I’ve hit up restaurants in Western and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and few places sate my worldly palate as much as the simple food of Nessun Dorma.  Considering the menu’s simplicity, what they offer is incredible! The soups are consistently delicious, as well as the appetizers, main courses, and desserts. They hit every mark. It’s pretty obvious that this kind of course-to-course consistency only comes from chefs who know what they’re doing.

Olives, anyone?

Olives, anyone?

Walk up to the building and notice the rusty red brick, the large white Nessun Dorma sign, and the big bay window with white trim around it. Walk inside and immediately, you’re greeted by many curious and cool faces from the neighborhood who briefly look you over to inspect your credentials as a newcomer.


Notice the eurhythmic music playing.

To your left, there’s a long, narrow bar with tall stools perched in front of it. These stools, with their black seats and silver legs, stand high and thin along the bar’s side to accommodate the customers that try to pass by unnoticed. The color of burnt orange walls compliments the many coruscating bottles neatly arranged behind the bar. Keep moving along. Sit down wherever you can find a seat, and you’ll soon to be greeted by a kind and knowledgeable waitress.


Now, I won’t make any recommendations of what to sample. Look over the menu and order what sounds good and be ready to experience all the stages of good eating, from aperitif to the after-dinner dessert. After the bustle of a long day, sit back with some friends, relax, and enjoy the ambiance and mystique of River West’s Nessun Dorma. Absorb the nuanced character of its cool music and even cooler people. But most importantly, prepare yourself for a great time.