Food & Drink

Old building, new Italian eats

You never know what you'll find behind a wall, unless it's a John Wall, in which case it'll most likely be John Calipari holding a bag full of money, several women, and a new job as soon as the NCAA finds out. Finding its name and menus behind a wall, Staple & Fancy Mercantile.

The latest in Chef Ethan Stowell's mini-dining-empire, S&F gets its name -- and the inspiration for its "Staple" a la carte, and "Fancy" chef's tasting menus -- from the original hand-painted signage found behind a plaster wall in this renovated machine/mercantile shop; inside the high-ceiling'd 42-seater boasts metal-encased wooden tables, reclaimed plank flooring, and a front glass wall that opens "accordion-style", also the go-to theme of any clothing line out of Milwaukee. The Italian eats start with four-course family-style dinners (sized to fit your party) selected by the chef from a range of apps & sides (pig head fritti, crispy polenta w/ spicy anchovy oil), pastas (potato gnocchi w/ lobster mushrooms & fried hen egg), mains (pork shoulder w/ carrots, chanterelles & oven dried tomatoes), and desserts like a grappa ice cream-topped hazelnut tart, since the Sister Hazelnut tart was way too cheesy to keep All for You. A la carte options include tagliarini lamb ragu w/ oregano & mint; a figs/feta/romano beans veal breast; a chili/controne bean mussel brodo; and sweet cream ricotta w/ heirloom tomatoes, which are to be kept in the family for generations, or until someone likes tomatoes.

Behind the bar S&F's got a euro-centric wine list, cans & bottles (Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Bitburger Pilsner), plus house 'tails like the rye/benedictine/pastis De La Louisianne, and the tequila/Campari/sweet vermouth Rosita, also what Calipari called any girl that helped him "recruit" Derrick Rose.