We are lucky to have so many wonderful locally owned and operated restaurants in the Kenosha Area. If you are looking for a VIP fine-dining experience, you need not look further than Sazzy B in Downtown Kenosha. I was recently challenged to dine at this venue, where I had never eaten before, and allow the Chef and bartender to make all my dining and drinking selections for me. I am not all that picky, but also know that there are certain things that I do not like and would not touch. Executive Chef Mary Radigan and the Sazzy B staff impeccably hosted my girlfriend Lynn and I to a dinner we both will not forget. They surely set the bar with Mary’s artfully creative, deliciously executed dishes and second-to-none service.
Sazzy B is a restaurant in the heart of downtown Kenosha with a big city feel. The environment was comfortable and lighting matched the décor perfectly creating a wonderful, intimate ambiance. With exposed brick walls and bistro lights strung across the dining room, the vibe is very urban. We were greeted by a beautifully stocked, tidy bar and Riki Tagliapietra - the restaurant’s General Manager. As we were escorted to our table, it was nice to see that both young and young at heart enjoyed both the restaurant and bar areas. Our server, Sarah, then came by to introduce herself and said she would be taking care of us. She was very attentive, not only to us but to all the patrons as we watched her and the other servers care for the restaurant’s patrons. This is important to note, since much of a dining experience is held in the hands of the wait staff. They were dressed neatly, worked quickly, gave enough attention to each table, and most of all, looked happy in their work environment.
I took a moment to visit with Executive Chef Mary Radigan in her kitchen to get to know her a little bit. There was a lot of activity in the small kitchen. She commanded her area well and gave her sous chefs direction that they almost already knew was coming – clearly a well-balanced team with good communication. Her fellow cooks all worked efficiently with her and each other to get orders out quickly. In our conversation, I learned that Chef Mary has had restaurant life in her blood since before she was born – her family owned and operated a supper club in Kenosha for many years. Additionally, she has a pretty impressive resume beyond he family business. She has worked at restaurants in New York and Chicago, with some of the best culinary teams around. Her goal with the menu at Sazzy B is to create dishes that are different, yet familiar to the palate. She exhibits her talent and experience through her cooking and pulls it off masterfully. The layering of flavors, along with different textures, is a well thought out technique – the dishes crafted in this kitchen are nothing short of art. Presentation of the dishes includes attention to color and balance to appeal to the eyes… and stomach. Mary is truly an artist.
So, on to the food. We indulged in a four-course meal with drinks to match each course. The team at Sazzy B worked together to feature food and beverages that created the most robust flavor combinations. Trusting the staff with our entire meal selection was intimidating at first, but now I would always ask for opinions from the crew when pairing food and beverages. Early on in the meal, Lynn commented on how the flavors worked together in our courses. Specifically, the creamy Soup Du Jour, a Three-Pepper and Roasted Squash, mellowed The Sun Dress cocktail that it was paired with. The flavors she experienced mimicked those of lemonade - with a kick.
My favorite dish of the night was the Veal Schnitzel, which Chef Mary said she would select as her “last meal, if I had to choose!” You would easily agree with her once you’ve tried it. The light coating on the veal was crunchy but did not overpower the succulent meat that rested just beneath it. Cooked to perfection – cliché as it sounds. The accompanying Cornichon Chimichurri (a bold green condiment with Spanish and Italian roots) is truly exotic to someone who has never had it. Both light and flavorful, it never conquered or got in the way of the taste of the veal – rather highlighted it. It was just enough to accent the dish and to add a beautiful green color to the presentation. The roasted Cipollini Onion is the sweetest onion you will ever taste, but in the same fashion as the chimichurri, never diminished the other flavors. The veal was served with spaetzle (a kind of egg noodle or dumpling found in German cuisine). The small noodles were delicate, almost pillow-like, and melted in the mouth. The biggest surprise of this dish? It was served with an egg on top. With a loose yolk and the whites just firm enough, it was the perfect way to bring all the components of the dish together, creating almost a sauce over everything once cut into. (Speaking of eggs… I plan to check out the brunch at Sazzy B soon. If the egg on the Schnitzel is this good, I can’t imagine how satisfying her brunch creations are!)
My favorite cocktail? A Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned. Old Fashioned cocktails are serious business in Wisconsin, and this one packed a punch. This was hand-down my favorite cocktail of the night. Again, presentation is art-like. Riki is not just the manager, he can also be found behind the bar creating cocktails. His talent had me astonished. When he explained that the sifter was going to arrive “smoked” he was not lying as it lay on his serving tray, upside down, and there was actual smoke in it. The Jameson Irish Whiskey, Fig Liqueur, and Peach Bitters were aged in oak barrels for four weeks. When it came time to serve, Riki turned the glass over, poured the concoction into the smoked sifter and added a squared ice cube. Presentation, serving… I was blown away. It was almost like a magic show – this is just watching him serve the drink! I continued to be impressed by the smooth taste of the drink. The Peach Bitters and the slight punch of the Jameson balanced the sweetness of the fig liquor. The essence of the smoke not only played into the taste of the drink, but also teased the sense of smell as I sipped on the beverage. Again, I really enjoyed this drink. Everything about it was fun, and it truly showed me an appreciation for the craftsmanship that is put into creating flavors behind the bar.
If there is one thing to say about the dining at Sazzy B, it is that it is an immersive culinary experience. All your senses will be challenged and awakened. The menus, both in the kitchen and behind the bar, are designed as if they are works of art, and are meant to be enjoyed in pairs. I was introduced to flavors I had not had the pleasure of experiencing previously. Overall, excellent experience at Sazzy B. Chef Mary really puts her stamp on the restaurant with her cooking and the service is attentive. I would happily return to try new dishes and drinks sooner than later.
In case you were wondering what our entire menu looked like… I took notes. This is just one of the many amazing choose-your-own adventures you can have while dining at Sazzy B. You can also ask for some ideas from the staff – they are always willing to share their favorite dishes. Chef Mary just launched the new Spring menu last week, so it’s a great time to visit this gem in Downtown Kenosha!
Here is what our whole dining experience looked like:
Bourbon Soake Cherry Flatbread - Warm Brie, Arugula, Brussel Sprouts Leaves, Chipotle Honey
Roasted Shallot Tart - Garlic Crimini Mushrooms, Parmesan, Burrata, Arugula, Pine Nuts, Balsamic Vinaigrette
Paired with Public Brewing Sweet Colleen – Irish Red Ale, Kenosha, WI and Riono Prosecco, Italy
Soup Du Jour - Three Pepper and Roasted Squash
Warm Burrata Salad - Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Bacon, Pear, Pistachios, Dried Cranberries, Arugula, Balsamic Vinaigrette
Paired with Barrel Aged Old Fashioned and "The Sun Dress"
Veal Schnitzel - Roasted Cipollini Onion and Brown Butter Puree, Over Easy Egg, Cornichon Chimichurri, Spaetzle
Barramundi - Jalapenos, Poblanos, Chilis, Pineapple, Mango, Lime Juice, Coconut Rice
Paired with Yalupa Merlot, California, 2012 and Fritz Zimmer Riesling, Germany, 2014
Affogato - Hazelnut Gelato, Cocoa Nibs, Candied Hazelnuts, and Almond Biscotti drowned in Fresh Espresso
Paired with "The Last Piece" cocktail
Kenoshan by way of Chicago. Father of Four. Professional Photographer at Danny V Photography and Guitarist. Just an outgoing guy who enjoys meeting new people and experiencing all he can with his amazing kids.