More than one-hundred years after Italian immigration to Wisconsin peaked in the first decade of the twentieth century, evidence lingers of those southern European roots. Today, descendants of the state’s early Italian families continue to operate restaurants and delis, to put on festivals, and to share their recipes, history and cultural heritage.

A host of great Italian delis, restaurants and specialty food shops with old-world atmosphere, that have long been part of fabric of the state and their individual communities, can be found in Wisconsin’s larger cities.

Madison old-world Italian food and Culture

Madison has Fraboni’s Italian Specialties & DelicatessenGino’s Italian Deli, Paisan’s, Porta Bella, Greenbush Bar, and Lombardino’s.

Milwaukee old-world Italian food and Culture

Milwaukee has Glorioso’s Italian Market and Café La Scala . Café La Scala  is located inside the Italian Community Center of Milwaukee. The Italian Community Center of Milwaukee, located in the heart of the city’s Third Ward, where many Italian immigrants historically settled, also offers Italian cooking and language classes and other, ongoing cultural activities.

Community events

In the summer, the Italian Community Center of Milwaukee organizes Festa Italiana at Maier Festival Park, on the shore of Lake Michigan.  Year-round, one of the best features of Festa Italiana’s website is its recipe page.

The Madison Italian Workmen’s Club’s summertime ethnic event is Festa Italia at McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg.

Italian recipes and cooking

And thinking of cooking up an Italian meal in your own kitchen? Here are some outstanding blogs and websites devoted to Italian recipes and cooking:

And of course we’ve added a few heirloom recipes to this site, so be sure to check out other posts related to Italian Food and Culture.

Have a recommendation for a great Italian deli, restaurant or event in Wisconsin, or an Italian food-related website or blog? Email us at: We might add your contribution to this post!


In Giddyap Tin Lizzie, first-generation Italian-American immigrants are loyal customers at Will O’Shaughnessy’s Ford dealership. This award-winning book is available through Amazon, the publisher Little Creek Press, and many local bookstores. You can also download a sample chapter today.