Some things never change...

11/12/2018 - Trisha Blaine

Long time establishments in Kenosha, WI
Long time establishments in Kenosha, WI
Long time establishments in Kenosha, WI
Long time establishments in Kenosha, WI
Long time establishments in Kenosha, WI
Long time establishments in Kenosha, WI

You know that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”? I like change.  It brings a new, fresh take on the monotony of life. The best part of visiting my hometown (Kenosha), is getting to see all the things that have changed since I’ve been there last.  Now, that I’m so close I don’t notice the changes as much as I did when I lived further away, even though Kenosha is a fast growing and ever-changing community.  It’s exciting to watch, actually. When I lived far away the best thing about coming home was visiting some of my favorite local spots and getting a taste of “home”.  So, in the spirit of somethings never changing, I want to share with you my favorite places that haven’t changed! And that’s a good thing!

First up is one of my favorite downtown eateries, Villa D’Carlo. Other than the remodeled patio offering more outside seating and renovation of the bar, this Italian restaurant hasn’t changed much. I still get the same wave of nostalgia every time I go there, which I must say is often. They produce some yummy Italian dishes, but my usual order is a pizza because no matter where I am in the country, I always compare the pizza to Villa D’Carlo. I have yet to find a comparable one.  The Ruffalo and Greskoviak’s know their way around a pizza – they still make their sausage in-house using a family recipe. They aren’t the only Italian place on my list though.  I also LOVE Casa Capri, and again, not much has changed. Although, they don’t need to! Some of my favorite memories including evenings spent in the dining room at Casa Capri and getting to see the fish in the indoor Koi pond when I was a kid.  I have hosted several showers there and it was the choice for my wedding rehearsal dinner.  They make some of the best chicken and their Italian green beans are seriously out of this world!  They also make a great Old Fashioned, which is the state drink of Wisconsin - so do yourself a favor and let the Stella family make you dinner tonight! Oh, and tell Hondo to bring back the Koi fish!

As you can see I love Italian food, and it might have to do with the fact that I am Italian, but I have some German blood in me too.  Next stop, is the House of Gerhard for some insanely scrumptious eats.  My go-to, favorite dish is the Gerhard Schnitzel and Spätzle. Honestly, I have eaten most everything off the menu, though!  My mom regularly gets the Perch and talks about it for days following our dinners out – so you know it’s good. To quote her, “It is lightly battered and melts in your mouth.”  A specialty from this restaurant is their annual sale of their homemade Christmas cookie trays! These become available in limited quantities the Friday after Thanksgiving and are available until Christmas – while supplies last. But the supplies don’t last for long, so get yours early!  An outdoor biergarten with al fresco dining was added a few years ago, but beyond that nothing on the inside has changed and that’s what I love about it!  The Rudin family will greet you with lots of love and make your special event or just an average nightly dinner one for the books.  

Back to my Italian roots, my favorite store in Kenosha is Tenuta’s Delicatessen and Liquors. I would bottle up the delicious aroma of cheese, sausage, tobacco and old world Italian smells and spray it all over my home if I could. Sounds a little dramatic, I know, but I REALLY would spray it all over my kitchen. Everything about this place is amazing. I will never forget taking my husband there for the first time (back when we were just dating), the amazement on his face and the time we spent there perusing the shelves was priceless. I do not remember the first time I went to this Italian market, more than likely while I was still in the womb, but that goes to show you how much of a staple they have been in my 34 years of life.  I love everything from the homemade foods to the liquor selection, and even the bagged candies. Let’s not forget the hand-rolled cigars and the fresh ricotta cheese.  Trust me, the thing that takes any lasagna or stuffed pasta dish over the top is their fresh ricotta cheese! There is never a Christmas celebration without someone putting a Tenuta’s basket in the gift exchange, and it’s usually the one everyone is swapping his or her gift for. Again, some things never change.

I have already shared my love for Jack Andrea (it's a store, don't worry) in a previous blog, but that is certainly on the list too. Even with recent changes to the cafe offers and lines carried at the shop, the heart and soul of the business is still the same. And so is the marble soda fountain! So, last but certainly not least, Mike Bjorn’s Fine Clothing.  I know what you are thinking! You are shocked that this one doesn’t revolve around food but this is truly one of my favorite places to visit and take out of town guests. Since my husband is from a place far, far away… called OHIO, this was on my list of places to visit when he came to Kenosha for the first time.  He was enthralled with the choices and uniqueness of suits, shirts, socks, tuxedos and all the accessories.  He loved it so much that without question he wanted the tux rentals for our wedding to be from Bjorn’s, and took several of his family members on a tour.  As a child, I was always in awe of the window displays at Mike Bjorn’s and if we were downtown, I would beg my parents to drive by so I could see if anything new was in the second story window. It’s another family-owned treasure in Kenosha that even with the façade improvements and new fashions feels like nothing has changed.               

Other than my obvious love of food, I LOVE Family and it dawned on me while writing, that each and every one of these business is centered around just that. Family. Family owned and operated businesses are a tradition in Kenosha, just like our shopping and dining experience are a tradition. When you visit these restaurants or shops, you become a part of the family and that will never change! 

Community Blog Team 2018

Trisha Blaine

Community Blogger

Former Kenoshan. Lover of musicals, cooking, nature, travel, reading, and all things Disney. Fulltime wife to an awesome guy, stay-at-home momma to 3 kiddos, and home school teacher extraordinaire.