In case you missed it, Shepherd Express unveiled the winners of its 25th “Best Of Milwaukee” awards during a star-studded ceremony at Turner Hall Ballroom earlier this week. We didn’t attend because we had literally anything better to do, but dozens of awards were bestowed upon Milwaukee area businesses, bands, and people…likely with an invoice for discounted advertising taped to the back. But we digress.
There were some surprises, including Milwaukee Eye Care Associates besting Metro Eye for the vaunted Best Eye Doctor plaque and UW-Milwaukee taking home Best College For Students Ages 35 And Up honors. Scott Walker won (?) “Most Despised Politician,” which was probably softened by his being named runner-up for Most Beloved Politician/Most Trusted Public Official as well. Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge finally got some attention as the Best Cocktail Lounge winner. Hopefully this award prompts people to go there now.
Speaking of drinking establishments, going into Tuesday’s awards ceremony, all eyes were on Mozzaluna. As we reported before, the hard-to-find “pizzeria & ristorante” was nominated for a staggering 22 Best Of Milwaukee awards in the Dining Out and Out & About sections, despite being pretty much just an okay place that is located way out in fucking Brookfield. Most people could’ve probably predicted Mozzaluna was a long shot to receive Best Live Music Venue hardware behind the likes of Pabst Theater, Turner Hall, and The Metal Grill. Unless BOM-nominated barkeep Bill Orban was off work (or just off his game) the day we visited, we knew a Best Margarita award absolutely wasn’t in the suburban trattoria’s future. Still, with more nominations than any other bar, restaurant, or potential “Place To Be Seen” in metro Milwaukee, it would take a miracle for Mozzaluna to leave Turner Hall empty-handed Tuesday night.
Whoops! Mozzaluna struck out in ALL 22 categories. They weren’t even thrown a bone in the form of an utterly meaningless “Child Friendly Restaurant” plaque. Cousins Subs even beat them for Best Sandwich. Somehow even more miraculously, the Susan Lucci of southeastern Wisconsin pizzeria & ristorantes didn’t earn runner-up acknowledgement in a single category. Instead, Mozzaluna left the 2015 BOMs and made the long, infuriatingly construction-laden drive home as the Most Honorably-Mentioned place in Milwaukee, having collected honorable mentions in 19 of the 22 categories. Here they are:
• Best Child Friendly Restaurant
• Best Italian Restaurant
• Best Pizza
• Best Restaurant Service
• Best Restaurant With A View/Seafood Restaurant
• Best Sandwich
• Best Soup
• Best Wine List
Out & About
• Best Cocktail Lounge
• Best Romantic Bar
• Best Bar On A Budget
• Best Bartender
• Best Bar To Be Seen In
• Best Bloody Mary
• Best Craft Beer Selection At A Bar
• Best Live Music Venue
• Best Margarita
• Best Sports Bar
• Best Wine Selection At A Bar
If Mozzaluna can be included in the nominations for 22 things, how could they not be even the second best at one of them? Does the blatant award omission of a pretty good restaurant that’s not even located in Milwaukee actually lend credibility to the Best Of Milwaukee awards, or is the sheer volume of mentions for a place obviously not worthy of a trophy from an alt-weekly only serving to magnify the numerous flaws in the process? Could it be possible that Best Of Awards are simply meaningless vehicles intended to solicit page views and ad revenue? Oh yeah…it’s probably that last one.
Congrats on the 19 honorable mentions, Mozzaluna. You tried your best.